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Whether you have seen The Godfather or not, I am sure you will be familiar with the Michael Corleone quotation, ‘Keep you friends close and your enemies closer’.
It is this saying which has directed my wandering contemplations to arrive here, where I now shall endeavour, in my random and haphazard way, to explain where Michael Corleone’s words have taken me.
As most of us bumble our way through life, bouncing from one calamity to another, we generally pay little heed or attention to anyone who may be a threat, unless we are in direct contact with them at that time. Once we have resolved the situation we move on. Our thoughts of them fade into the ether of the past once they are removed from our immediate lives and rightly so.
Sadly, the same is true of so many people who, at least for a while, we have classed as friends. As our lives progress, as we meet new people, form new relationships, or move home, we ‘lose’ contact. We forget many of those who have shared, even influenced our lives.
C’est la vie.
This was not an option for Michael Corleone in his professional career. He had to know who were his friends, who were his enemies, what each was planning, what they were doing and when.
It would become a sad state of affairs should we all have to live our personal lives under that sort of regime.
But closeness of those things which matter to us, our families, our true friends, our loved ones, our lovers; these are the things we should all keep close, but so often fail to do.
As we stumble forth, crashing into life’s catastrophes on our personal journey towards destiny, our minds are focused on each problem as it arrives, while our eyes are firmly fixed on the far horizon, seeking out our dreams and aspirations.
The result is, we too often fail to take care of those things which are close to us, the things which are nearest to our hearts. Mainly because they are there, right under our noses. They are the things and the people with whom we have become so familiar, albeit unintentionally, we take them, or their presence, for granted.
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I was never one to place photographs on my desk, or to carry a picture in my wallet. I would come and go from the house without a backward glance. Because I was a man on a mission. I had things to do, business to take care of. I was trying to earn a living, pay the bills, save a little. All the normal, regular, everyday stuff.
These are our excuses; they are our rational and justifications, the ones we try to convince ourselves to feel less guilt.
But they are all limp lies and we know it.
Years later I have found the number of true, close friends I have can be counted on one hand. Those I call friends do not exceed that of all the fingers and toes I have combined. Yet when I looked back, in my old address books, (do you remember them, the contact information we used to write down with pens or pencils, before these fandangled computers took over?), I began to recall all the people I have known and the numbers are astounding.
Now, I often wonder where those people are and what they are doing. One day I may make it my mission to find out.
But I digress.
There are to me various forms of ‘closeness’, the most important being love. So I have made a pact with myself; I shall now keep all that is important, all that which I love, very, very close indeed.
I shall place photographs on my desk, carry pictures in my wallet and kiss, or hug people when I leave. I shall write, text and phone those who matter to me on a frequent basis, even if I have nothing to say.
From now on I shall keep my friends close.
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As for my enemies.
I am not a Mafia Don. I have no wish to lead my life in such a constructed way my attention is focused on the if’s, what’s and maybe’s.
I am not planning a battle, although I know I shall have to fight for righteousness on occasions.
I have no inkling to start a war.
So, my enemies can go stuff themselves. I will deal with them as I stumble along this dimly lit footpath to my destiny.
Only now, I will not be walking that unfamiliar footpath alone; I shall have my friends with me and, in the end, that is all that really matters.
© Paul White 2014
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