Have I any friends? I am not sure. Few can tolerate my intensity. Like indeterminate candles in the throes of my constant storms, they are extinguished, happy to serve their purpose in a less hostile, a more docile environment.

I want no rose without its thorn, no honey without a sting. I do not want to be soothed; I want to be moved. My unspoken demand of everyone, as of myself – either move, or be moved. I do not calculate expenditure, or investment, or consequence. I give wholly, freely, without hope or expectation of reciprocation. With some, I am generous to a fault; others will be denied even the time of day. For cowards, I have nothing. For those deluded by fear, or any other emotional contrivance of the mind, I have nothing. Side by side with the courageous, the defiant, the underdogs, upon my own volition, I will fight to the death, my death. I am fearless. Cowardice, however generated, however manifested, inspires but contempt. My heart is huge. For those worthy, my sympathy, my empathy, knows no bounds. These will always have my hand, my arm, my heart, mind, soul, life.

Friends…? Do I wish I had one, some? Have I any? Have I ever had any? Certainly not in the conventional sense. I walk alone. I follow no one. I lead no one. I carry a lamp to light my way. I carry a sword and a dagger to protect myself, and to fight on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves. I observe.  I learn. I teach. Bad fortune is the spear pointed at my back. Good fortune is the spear pointed at my face. Loyalty is the least of virtues, displayed only upon betrayal.

A man dear to my heart, beat up and robbed on the street once again, though he was quite accomplished in martial arts, used to call me, summoning my help. Every time, I dropped all that I was doing, and rushed to his side.  Of course, I never found those who hurt and robbed him. Had I found them, I would left them dead on the sidewalks. I take no prisoners. My friend is not a coward. He is a man of principle, for ten years now a fully ordained Buddhist monk in Thailand. I have watched him forgive the mosquito, granting it his blood without a swat. I have watched sparrows and butterflies alight on his shoulders, his hands, his face, without the slightest trepidation. In Thailand, while in his robes, walking the jungle trails, I have observed his patience and compassion as scorpions crossed our path without disturbance.  He is a gentle, spiritual man. His courage lies in his defiance of all that the predictable, conventional world might offer. In a heartbeat, I would give my life for him. Is he a friend, though? In place of friendship, I offer devotion – unfaltering, never-to-be-forsworn adoration.