One of the many things I appreciate during breaks from school is the ability to read the books I want, instead of the textbooks I am assigned. One of the books I enjoyed over Spring Break was “Same Kind of Different As Me,” a true story written by Ron Hall and Denver Moore.
In their book Hall and Moore each take turns telling their side of the story. Through the course of the chapters, the reader is introduced to each boy’s upbringing and follows the development of the authors’ relationship. The 22nd chapter Ron tells of a time he and Denver met for coffee, and the conversation that occurred.
A week prior, Ron had told Denver he wanted to be his friend. Denver had told Ron he would think about it. Over coffee, Denver brought up the conversation again.
“I been thinkin a lot about what you asked me… bout bein your friend.”
Ron had forgotten he told Denver he wanted to be his friend, and that he had spent all week thinking about it, preparing his answer.
“There’s something I heard about white folks that bothers me, and it has to do with fishin.” Denver said, “I heard that when white folks go fishin they do something they called ‘catch and release…’ …That really bothers me,” Denver went on. “I just can’t figure it out. ‘Cause when colored folks go fishin’, we really proud of what we catch… in other words, we use it to sustain us. So it really bothers me that white folks would go to all that trouble to catch a fish, then when they done caught it, just throw it back in the water.”
After hearing Denver express his concern of ‘catch and release,’ Ron listened while Denver continued:
“So, Mr. Ron, it occurred to me: if you is fishin for a friend you just gon’ catch and release, then I ain’t got no desire to be your friend… But if you is lookin for a real friend, then I’ll be one. Forever.”
Maybe it’s the fact that I live in a world that is surrounded by men who love to catch (and release) fish. Or maybe it’s because I love to be around people, connecting with others over coffee, social media and through time spend together. Or Maybe (and most likely probably…) it’s because I sometimes view my commitments to friendships through a lens similar to that of catch and release. Regardless of the reason(s) why, this conversation hit me like a ton of bricks, sticking in my memory and making me question how I treat others.
In a culture heavily influenced by social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, sometimes we tend to focus on the quantity of friends rather than the quality. Society teaches us to invest in those who benefit us. We often choose to hang out with others who make us look and feel good. We fish for “friends” that are impressive, sometimes keeping them just long enough to create a story and take a picture, before throwing them back.
Watching the development of Ron and Denver’s friendship was both painful and rewarding. It is obvious their relationship took work and time. When life got tough, and the two didn’t see eye to eye, they didn’t unfriend’ or ‘unfollow’ each other, finding someone else who made them look and feel better about themselves. Instead, they hung on, worked out their issues, and supported and stood by each other.
We aren’t promised easy fulfilling lives. We can’t predict tomorrow. In this book, we have the opportunity to watch a deep and meaningful friendship develop between two very unlikely people.
I want my friendships to be like these two. I want to be someone who is like Denver, picking my friends seriously and intentionally, and then sticking by them no matter what. May I learn to be more careful what I catch, faithful to those who I am surrounded by.