I find myself often wrapped up in the lives of friends. I take friendship very seriously. It goes back to another time and another place when you put your life in a friend’s hands and also accepted responsibility for theirs.

Friendship can be strong or fragile, depending on the personalities of those involved. I’m a difficult person to befriend. I’m opinionated, stubborn, arrogant, maddening and blunt. I challenge my friends to think, to consider and to weigh the consequences of their actions and I hope they will treat me with the same bluntness, honesty and compassion.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Friendship can survive through strong bonds or shatter because of fragile egos and unmet expectations. Some friends are high-maintenance, others expect little attention or stroking. Such are the differences in human nature.

Where friends are concerned, Amy and I will do anything we can to help. A friend is currently using one of Amy’s cars and one of my cell phones because he needs dependable transportation and a way to stay in touch. No questions asked, nothing expected in return. A half-dozen others keep free web sites on my Internet servers. Still others always know our home is open to them if and when they need it.

I’m a recovering alcoholic who owes his life to those who cared enough to risk their friendships by intervening in my life 12 years ago and forcing me to take a long, hard look at myself. That period was tough and it challenged the very concept of friendship.

Some think friendship means overlooking another’s weaknesses and playing it safe. Had my friends done that in 1994, I would not be alive today. Because my friends took such a chance, I have tried to return the favor with others. When I think a friend is screwing up, I don’t mince words. Some of our friends appreciate such bluntness. Others do not. Sometimes I go too far. That’s always a risk for a passionate personality. Anger is a major symptom of the disease called alcoholism and the line between passion and anger is too easily crossed.

But the same passion that drives my anger also drives my concern for my friends. I will risk everything to help a friend. The appreciation from those who understand such passion makes life worth living.