Fair Weather Friends

Who really cares about you and me?
 ByKen Shelton
             As delightful, mostly fairfall weather continues today, I am reminded of the interview in Utah Valley Magazine with popularsinger-songwriter David Archuleta. Here Iquote parts of it:    
             In the industry you are told to get a goodbody and then to go shirtless. The darker and edgier you are, the more youappeal to both guys and girls. People who are part of your tribe like to testyou. They say, “Are you still part of us? Do you really belong? Because you arealso in this other tribe now.” When you are in the limelight, people feel thatthey have a right to judge you. They expect you to be perfect. But I have struggles,and if I have a dip or make a mistake it’s like I let people down. But arethose people holding themselves to those same standards?
            Before I went to LA, a couple ofbrothers and their dad invited me to go back packing in the Unitas. There Italked to God, and He basically said, “Stay close to me. Be honest. Be good. Bekind.” He didn’t say, “Sing this song. Win people over.” It was simply, “Prayand read scripture every morning. Do the things that will help you have the Spirit.”
            So I read scripture every morningfor 15 minutes. I need something to keep me steady. God is consistent wheneverybody and everything else isn’t.”
            People are always judging you, tellingyou what kind of person to be. You’re introduced to a cut-throat industry whereyou think people are your friends. Suddenlythey aren’t. This includes people in the industry but also your friends andfamily. They think they need to humble you, so they start saying you aren’tthat great. And I’m thinking, “I don’t need that from you right now. I need comfortand support.” It’s an amazing experience, but it’s also very isolating andlonely.
            My dad was the one who stood up forme when I was tempted to be a ‘yes’ man. He didn’t care what the Idol peoplethought of him, so he would tell them I wasn’t going to sing certain songs.When you have convictions you annoy people, but you also get respect. My dadwould say, “David, have you listened to those lyrics?” And I would say, “Dad, it’sfine. I don’t want to get on their bad side once again. They already hate you,Dad. Don’t mess things up.” And he would say, “David, those lyrics aren’t whoyou are.” At times I was annoyed with my dad, and he can be intense. But he savedme. My dad cared what I stood for. Now I want to make more room in thisindustry for people who want to stay true to who they are.”
             In this interview, David revealsthat he had many false friends, fair-weather friends, but only a few truefriends—a couple of brothers and their dad, his dad, ultimately God, and eventuallyhimself, as he learned to be his own best friend.   
 Be your Own Best Friend
            One of my friends, Jim Fisher, sentme this today about being our own best friends:
             We are all authors of our own life story, heroes of ourown novels.  Our life is sacred, unique, scripted high drama, playedout before an audience of one, with but one actor on stage. 
            Since American society cannot accept deviation fromits arbitrary norm, it must be the individual who is wrong.  Theindividual is meant to feel self-contempt for being out of step with theexpected. The only safe haven is to be your own best friend by asking: How do Ifeel about myself, not as I am supposed to be, but as I am? How comfortable amI in my own skin? Am I in control of my own Life? Is my day from sun up tosundown an attempt to please others because that is what is expected of me? Ordo I go against the grain and assert myself as I am?  Do I take the risksthat ensure my integrity, my authenticity? Or do I play it safe and acceptself-hating as my inevitable baggage? Mychallenge is not to keep my freedom but to win it by realizing the human personwithin myself, by being my own best friend.
            Often, we do to our children what has been done tous.  We put a monkey on their backs that was put onours.  We create the same self-doubt in them that was created inus. We blame ourselves while growing up by second-guessing what we shouldand should not do, spending little time to understand why we desired what weactually did.  It is a monkey circus we play on ourselves. Like aspinning top, our life can spin out of control and come to rest exactly whereit started without interruption or insight, denying us the freedom toexperience life to the fullest.  Or we can become obsessivelyconcerned with always looking over our shoulders to see if someone is watchingor chasing us—more interested in success than in living, more interested inwhat other people consider important than what we enjoy.  People cantake the clothes off your back, the roof over your head, the food off yourtable, the money in your pocket, but they can’t take away what you put betweenyour ears. All any man needs to live is a place to throw his hat, a roofover his head, three meals a day, and the rest is gravy.  If you’reinto gravy, and measure who you are by how much gravy you have, you’ll neverstop running because you’ll never have enough. 
            The hardest thing is to like ourselves.  Wehear a lot about self-love and how damaging it can be, but we never hear much aboutliking ourselves as we are (self-acceptance).  This is not acceptingourselves as we should be, but as we are, not as others choose to see us, butas we see ourselves, not in arbitrary standards such as success and failure,but as our own best friend. Tohave a friend you must be a friend, starting with yourself. As wecome to our journey’s end we must realize we come in alone and leave alone, andthat the portrait we paint can be either like Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray or it can be anhonest reflection of a life well lived.
 Summer Soldier and Sunshine Patriot?
            In thinking about fair-weatherfriends, I’m reminded of what Thomas Paine said regarding the AmericanRevolution: “These arethe times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriotwill, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he thatstands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, likehell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that theharder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap,we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value.Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strangeif so celestial an article as Freedom (and true friends) should notbe highly rated.”
            Remember these bumper-stickertruisms: There is no room for fair-weather friends in my circle. If you randuring the storm, don’t try to return when it’s time to shine. Fair-weather friendsrun at the first sign of rain; true friends bring you an umbrella and stay byyour side until the storm is over. I don’t need fair-weather friends. Judge mefor my mistakes, but don’t forget you own. No one is perfect. Your judgmentmakes you just as wrong as me. An acquaintance merely enjoys your company; afair-weather companion flatters when all is well; a true friend has your bestinterests at heart and the pluck to tell you what you need to hear.
Ken Shelton, editor, agent, CEO Executive Excellence, LLC


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