Because we are not good at such things, men will fall back on cliché when talking about genuine friendship with other men. For example, when we want to express gratitude for a friend's loyalty and courage, we will say something like, "That's the guy I would want next to me in a foxhole." In all honesty, were I ever to find myself in an actual foxhole, Jim would probably not have been my first choice of companion, nor, I'm certain, would I have been his. But in telling that truth I say nothing about Jim's courage or loyalty or masculinity. Rather, I'm saying something about how inadequate are our ways of talking about courage and loyalty and masculinity.
What is truly courageous and masculine is to love the people and the things you do while expecting nothing in return for that love. And to remain steadfast in those loves, no matter what the consequences, no matter what odd light the world may come to regard you in for such steadfastness, that is what it is to be truly loyal.
Jim pursued nothing in hopes of fame or wealth. He could have. We all of us know that he had more than enough talent and energy to do so. Neither did Jim devote himself to what he did in order to gain adulation or admiration, or to conform to anyone's notion of what was fashionable or worthwhile. Jim, instead, did something genuinely corageous: Jim followed the thread of the particularity of his true Self with the most beautifully objective curiosity and with inspiring faith in where it would lead him.
Jim and I came to be very close friends under the oddest of circumstances. It was one of those necessary contingencies, so few and far between, but the sum of which constitute a life. I read these final words long before I met Jim, but understood them only once we were friends.
"If I were pressed to say why I love him, I feel that my only reply could be: Because it was he, because it was I."
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
For the Record
What I said at Jim's memorial service ...