No One Else Can Play Your Part

In recognition of National Suicide Prevention Week, To Write Love on Her Arms is promoting the theme “No One Else Can Play Your Part” for the week of September 8-14.  Admittedly, I have some mixed feelings about TWLOHA as an organization/cause, but for now, that’s not really the point.  At the very least, they raise awareness, and that’s important.

No one else can play your part.  There have been times that this has been difficult for me to remember.  Today, I saw how much it works both ways.  Yes, no one else can play my part.  But no one else can play the parts of all the people in my life.  It’s easy for me to box out other people, which I suppose also makes it easy for me to forget that both they and I play unique parts.  One of my best friends posted this link on Facebook and tagged me and two of our other closest friends.  [Aside: Frankly, I believe that friendship is one of God’s graces to humanity.  If you feel that you haven’t friends, hang on.  I’ve been there.  It was a dark time, but it led to a lot of introspection and two important realizations: 1) Locking myself in the Impenetrable Tower of Invulnerability is a completely ineffective strategy to make friends.  2) Even if you feel surrounded by thousands of people who don’t understand you, someone will.]  It’s just a brief discussion of C.S. Lewis’ The Four Loves with an excerpt, but I’ve copied out part (most) of the excerpt here because it illustrates why no one else can play your part.

In a circle of true Friends each man is simply what he is: stands for nothing but himself. No one cares twopence about anyone else’s family, profession, class, income, race, or previous history. Of course you will get to know about most of these in the end. But casually. They will come out bit by bit, to furnish an illustration or an analogy, to serve as pegs for an anecdote; never for their own sake. That is the kingliness of Friendship. We meet like sovereign princes of independent states, abroad, on neutral ground, freed from our contexts. This love (essentially) ignores not only our physical bodies but that whole embodiment which consists of our family, job, past and connections. At home, besides being Peter or Jane, we also bear a general character; husband or wife, brother or sister, chief, colleague, or subordinate. Not among our Friends. It is an affair of disentangled, or stripped, minds. Eros will have naked bodies; Friendship naked personalities.

Hence (if you will not misunderstand me) the exquisite arbitrariness and irresponsibility of this love. I have no duty to be anyone’s Friend and no man in the world has a duty to be mine. No claims, no shadow of necessity. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which gave value to survival.


Feel free to insult each other, forget your manners, create straw men, ignore empirical data, and commit as many other fallacies as you can, all from the cozy, anonymous protection of your keyboard.

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