Good friends are like trampolines. They’re there to catch you when you fall, then they bounce you back up again. They have enough give in them to let you sink down a bit, but not so far as to go smashing and crashing down to the ground.
Sometimes we’re reluctant to admit that, as if it’s giving too much power to others or not taking enough responsibility for ourselves. We don’t want to over-emphasize the importance of other people doing things for us and coming to our rescue, as if that’s somehow not admirable or independent enough.
But as I was heading out in my car, contemplating the circumstances that now find us free-falling through yet another of life’s topsy-turvy moments, I could feel with absolute certainty the force of friendship holding us up like some invisible safety net. And I could see and feel that same force of friendship holding up others within our circle who are going through their own trying times.
Which brings up the role of the spotter, and how sometimes it’s our turn to be up on the canvas, doing the tricks and going through the routine. Other times we have to be there as protectors, making sure our friends don’t go flying off and hurting themselves.
Thing is, even if you take all the precautions, they can still be dangerous, and a lot of people still get hurt. Sometimes it’s because you land in an awkward position, like on your neck or your wrist, or in between the springs. In friendships, though, the awkward positions usually relate to hurt feelings, misunderstandings and differences of opinions. In both cases, you have to exercise restraint, be aware of your true abilities, maintain your balance, and like the trampoline itself, you have to be flexible and giving.
The more common reason for injury, though, is goofing around, too many people at once jumping on and knocking into each other, and sending each other sailing off in unintended directions, which can happen when you hit on a trigger point at just the right — or in the case of friendship, the wrong — moment.
But when properly respected, they become the source of wonderful fun and enjoyment, and they can propel you to heights far greater than you could ever achieve on your own. I doubt, though, we would be able to derive the pleasure, experience the delight, or experiment with different moves and stunts if we did not have the faith that the trampoline would be there to catch us.
Some will say, you’ve got it wrong, the real trampoline is God, or the spirit, or trusting in the universe, trusting yourself and your talents, and your heart and your brain, and while all that stuff may be true, I am here and not too bashful to proclaim the incredible gift and the amazing power of true friendship.
Coleridge compared it to “a sheltering tree,” Holmes to “the breathing rose,” and Lord Byron called it “Love, without his wings.”
Then, of course, there’s that song from the movie “Friends,” which describes it as “the wind beneath my wings.” In the way that Dylan sang, “I’ll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours,” I will say, if true friendship really is like a trampoline, you can jump on me if I can jump on you.