Freedom and Friends

To say that we have all had a “funny old year” would be a bit of an understatement in my eyes. Our generation has lived through the most extraordinary time. Our parents may have lived through strange and uncertain times, but us lot have lived through something equally bizarre and fearful over the last twelve months. 

That wise old chap Aristotle once said that “Man is by nature a social animal; Society is something that precedes the individual”. That theory has most definitely been put to the test since March twenty-twenty. But to what extent? Many people who live alone have experienced feelings of isolation recently, while others I know are sick to death of the people they have been stuck indoors with.

One thing that has been placed under the microscope for many of us is the quality of our friendships. I am assuming that most of you lovely people have friends like I do, who we do not see or speak to for a year at a time, but when we do, we carry on exactly where we left off as though it were yesterday when we last saw each other. Such is the shared history we have. There are other people I see regularly who I may not have the same depth of friendship with, but whose company I love. 

Those of you who know me will be more than aware that I simply adore intimate gatherings of people I know well. Evenings where we chat each other’s ears off for hours on end without fear of boring someone sat at the table who might not get the ‘in’ joke about that time Lee was arrested in Mexico and chained to a wall with tattooed, shaved-headed drug dealers for twelve hours, (much more amusing than it sounds). Conversely, most people know that large weddings and black-tie affairs where I feel slightly on the periphery always leave me feeling anxious and are not my cup of tea in the slightest.

What has been fascinating for me during this whole pandemic is that my long-standing friendships with far-flung friends across the globe, with whom I share long histories, have been strengthened even more. We have been communicating regularly. Whereas some of the people I am used to seeing often have sadly fallen by the wayside somewhat. Many people I speak to have said a similar thing and are slightly apprehensive about re-entry into normal life and the hectic social scene they inhabited before this funny flu thing arrived. 

I find it extraordinary that the majority of social animals I know are feeling anxious about being social again! We have to navigate the coming months carefully if we are to live lives that make us happy, not offend those we may not want to spend as much time with now, but also make sure that we are social enough to not end up in a cave with long beards. Or leg hair for the ladies. Interesting, no? 

Being a writer I love my solitude. I have thoroughly enjoyed spending extended periods alone over the last year, and I always assumed I was the odd one out. I am genuinely astounded that numerous friends of mine have felt the same. People I have always known to be social butterflies. Maybe we all needed a break. Those dreaded words ‘social media’ have a lot to answer for in my eyes. This unhealthy need to feel in constant contact with others seems to have been challenged this year, and that is not necessarily a bad thing, is it? Another wise man once said, “It is better to walk alone than to walk with fools”. I am not suggesting a life of solitude is the way forward, but if this strange time has allowed us to re-evaluate who we wish to be around, then it was certainly time not wasted in my humble opinion. 

Enjoy your freedom all of you over the next few months. And enjoy your friends, the ones you really love. I know I will. 

Benjamin Milton
Benjamin Milton

Benjamin is a writer and actor who spends his time pirouetting between London and Malta. He was inexplicably drawn to the silver screen at a young age, and has seen more films than have been made. He will talk of nothing else given half a chance, so be prepared if you bump into him at Geo F Trumper in St. James having his moustache trimmed. His biggest indulgence is his fine collection of New & Lingwood silk dressing gowns, which is growing at an alarming rate. He looks fabulous in them

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