Friday, June 22, 2012


Three times in the last four days, I've heard the following, give or take phrasing:

"Thanks so much! I owe you..."

And every time it's been said, I've mentally writhed a little bit. Because that's not how I operate. I don't like the thought of owing. I owe money to the US Department of Education for helping me pay for my education; it's terrible, it's annoying, it's nasty. I am not friends with the DoE. I am business partners with the DoE. They provided a service and now I'm reimbursing them for that service.

That's not how friendship works. At least, in my mind--that's not how friendship works. One of my favorite Calvin&Hobbes mini-arcs is the Contract Arc. These:

The last one is relevant to our discussion, but I wanted to include the whole arc just because it's awesome. "People are friends because they WANT to be." There shouldn't be some sort of bookkeeping on friendship.

I Corinthians 13 is Paul's famous discourse on love, and it contains one of my personal favorite verses-to-live-by, 5d: "[love] keeps no record of wrongs." How much better would our world be if more people didn't keep record of wrongs? But that's not the focus of this blog post.

See, I believe the flip-side too. Something along the lines of "love keeps no record of rights." Something to the effect that true friendship accepts kindness/help/pampering/love/whatever without immediately thinking "omigosh, what can i do to reciprocate?"

Friendship isn't business. We don't do transactions. I don't bring you Jimmy Johns and then you have to give me a foot massage and then I have to paint you a picture and then you have to send me your secret recipe for delicious puttanesca sauce. Now, we may choose to have that exchange--it can be voluntary. But the "it's my turn" mindset is against the tenets of friendship.

I am a friend because I want to be. I serve because I want to. Owing has no place in my philosophy.

(Except for the Department of Education. I do owe them.)

Long live indignation!

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