My best friend

By Fouad Alaa

AS FAR BACK as I can remember, I’ve had this amazing friend with whom I’ve shared everything with, even the deepest of thoughts. We would wake up every morning and do anything we felt like without a single plan in mind… because life was so much simpler back when I was a little boy.


He had this amazing quality that inspired me to do the best things I did as a child and the worst things that would get me into trouble. That being said, I never really argued much with him once he presented an idea because he knew me better than I knew myself; which action figures I wanted to get or play with, what food tasted really good, and what the new definition of fun was.


He was the thinker and I was the muscle, every idea he had seemed like the best idea. God, he was spontaneous!


I don’t know what happened but it seemed like the more we grew up, the more distant and different we became. We were exactly alike in every single aspect and somehow despite everything we went through, he stayed simple and free.


When we used to watch superhero or sci-fi movies we would dream of the day when someone would approach us in the weirdest coincidence and tell us that we were the “Chosen Ones”, and that we would need to take the blue pill to enter the Matrix. Or the day when we would walk into a natural history museum and get bitten by a spider (or 100 if that’s what it took) so we could climb walls and swing around skyscrapers.


Even though we both grew up with the openness to be inspired by what we loved, when we watched the latest Iron Man movie he would be the one thinking – given that he’s a science geek too – that he would try to do what he loved and make enough money to have his own Tony Stark-level workshop.


If he couldn’t fly, he would be inspired to ‘fly’. As for me, I would just be thinking that it was a great movie, and since I can’t fly, I would just walk. He’s free from the influence of social buzz-kills and immune to the word “settling”.


When we used to play with other kids, we weren’t shy and would have fun regardless of who they were or what they were like; fun was fun.


If we saw a group of kids playing soccer or hide-and-seek, we would just ask any of them if we could play, even if the team was already full. If we saw another kid falling behind in class we would give them the only copy of our homework or tutor them during lunch break. We talked to everyone and nothing ever stopped us from acting or reacting; we were loved by everyone.


Even though we both grew up with the same sociable natures, when we started working, we started to have different choices of social groups. I became more selective about who I socialised with, while he would want to hang out with anyone who wanted to hang out with him. Whenever I was too shy to try to blend in with a group, regardless of the reason, he would tell me to just do it.


He doesn’t have any fear of embarrassment or awkwardness, but rather takes the simple view of things: Nothing is ever as bad or as good as we expect it to be, so why not just try and see for ourselves?


As kids, when we used to have ideas about what we wanted to do or have, we never took ‘no’ for an answer. I remembered if we wanted to eat a specific type of food or do a specific activity, we would literally do everything we could to do it. From acting cute and cuddly to straight-on emotional blackmail, we would get what we wanted and weren’t afraid to kick or bite our way through an argument.


Even though we both grew up with the same level of determination and persistence, I wouldn’t get what I wanted unless I did it his way. Factors out of my control had restricted me, and I became too conscious about my ambitions.


If I wanted to do anything I’d think and re-think it from every aspect, while not bad in itself, it meant I would risk demotivating myself thinking about the effort it would take or the obstacles I would have to overcome.


As for him, he would go ahead with his plan no matter what; there was no giving up, and nothing else mattered until he got what he wanted. Life makes it easy to lose that single-minded focus on goals, but not for him.


Recently and after years of being distant, I found a way to get in touch with him again, and it changed my whole outlook on life and consequently my behaviour towards everything.


With what I had been through and learned about the world, I had a profound sense of reality that sometimes makes it hard for me to be what I have always wanted to be. Since he’s never experienced the hard-knocks of reality, his perspective is pure and genuine like no one I else have ever known.


Now that we are re-united, everything has become better, from my relationships with people (professional and personal) to my personal goals and dreams.


He turned me from a normal guy who just wanted to live an average life, to someone who inspires to be and do what he is passionate about. He made me free again from all the negative thoughts and influences that are mandatory consequences of living in this world.


I became both the bright and positive little boy and the realistic, scared young adult, the perfect combination to know exactly what I wanted to do with my life, and how to turn my wants into reality.


I can’t imagine going through life without a friend like mine, and I can’t believe I once I thought I lost that connection with him just because I ‘grew up’.  All along I had been missing that rudimentary element that kept my heart passionate, and my outlook free and simple. The same outlook I had when I was a kid, the one that was ignorant of boundaries and obstacles.


I don’t think I will ever actually fly, but I would rather study the birds and aspire to “fly” than to back away from anything I am passionate about.


What happens when you need guidance in a world where mentors are scarce? Throughout all the emotionally devastating moments I’ve had, I always needed someone to remind me how I first began as a pure and simple soul, what had changed me from then to now, someone who could help me retrace my steps and figure out what I did wrong, so that I can fix myself.


The person I needed most turned out to be a friend that I left behind: the friend who could provide empathy and not pity; the friend who could show me how passionate I used to be, when my vision was not distorted by life’s distractions, and through that remind me what really mattered and appealed to my soul.


I can say that now I have all that because I got him back. My friend, my inner child, myself.


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