For the Love of a Friend

You’ll Be in My Heart
Phil Collins
YouTube     Lyrics

In college, I could hardly walk across campus without bumping into someone I knew. This wasn’t chance, as I was the sort of guy who would introduce himself to everyone around him on the first day of class and bring a power strip on an extension cord to the larger lecture halls.  I was involved in a variety of activities and clubs across the campus, and so I was exposed to a large group of acquaintances.  In the end, however, they were acquaintances, people with whom I had few emotional ties.

Though I am friendly and outgoing, I am also a strong introvert and slow to trust.  My friendships are few, but they are valued and I work hard to maintain them.  I have found that acquaintances come and go over the years, but there are those few who have become friends who have been there for me when it seemed that my world was falling apart.  They are my inner circle, and they are treasured.  They are the people for whom I would do just about anything to protect, those people for whom I would drop my life and get on an airplane, if the call was urgent enough.  My love for them is strong, but not romantic.

Most importantly, I know that they would do the same for me, if the need ever arose.  Throughout my life, I have had many reasons to be thankful for those who love me.

As writers, it is our job to put our protagonists through Hell, sometimes metaphorically, sometimes literally.  We try to blow them up, set them on fire, shoot at them, take away every comfort we can think of, try to destroy their relationships, force them to face their greatest fears and subject them to every form of torture.  Despite all this, our protagonists seem to be unstoppable in attaining their goals.  Why?

Because relationships matter.  They are the force that drive lives.

Our characters will put themselves in danger for the sake of their friends.  They will stand up when it would be better, and smarter, to just die.  They will face the things that terrify them and conquer those fears.  They will struggle and strive to rebuild relationships and trusts that are lost.  As a writer, I am very careful to track my characters' relationships, as often, therein lay their motivations.

In You’ll Be in My Heart, Phil Collins sings of a love between a mother and son.  Even though the relationship is between a human and a gorilla in this case, audiences sympathize with the emotion behind the it.  For me, the words of the song have always been a strong reminder that our friends and family don’t have to always be with us to support us.  Sometimes, it is enough to know that we are loved.


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