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Friendship and the 5-Second Titanic Test
One hundred years ago today, the world's largest ship, the Titanic, was launched into the dark, cold waters of Belfast. Fourteen years ago, the world's first movie to rake in over a billion dollars, Titanic, was released into the dark, warm theaters of America.
In homage, I planned to break out the DVD and Kleenex. Unfortunately, I don't own the movie and physical video rental stores no longer exist. On YouTube, I thought I'd found a way to bawl quietly and quickly at my desk: The Five-Second Titanic.
The Five-Second Titanic lacks the beauty and mystery of the 1994 regular Titanic. There is a sweep of dreamy music, then a clip of a minor character saying in a fancy English accent, "This ship can't sink." After which, splash, the ship sinks.
I've ruined the joke but not the point: Sometimes, exceptionally complex things in life can be distilled down to a single moment.
A close friend of mine recently told me a story about her old, dear college roommate, Sarah, who didn't come to her mother's funeral. Sarah, my friend told me, had had all kinds of terrible situations with her own mother. Sarah had two kids. Sarah was under a lot of stress at work. Sarah had troubles with intimacy. But Sarah was still a good person and a good friend.
I listened to all this. I groped around for something to say. But what I needed was a video camera in order to tape the 10 minutes that my friend spent talking about Sarah, then cut the footage down to the five seconds during which she said, "Sarah didn't come to my mom's funeral."
Yes, life is complicated and messy. Yes, people do regrettable things for a myriad of understandable reasons. But sometimes five seconds all is we need to tell us what is really going on in a relationship. Then we can spend the next five—or 5,000—seconds figuring out what to do about it.
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