Friends. They are the true delights in life. Friends are the people who are most likely to make us smile, make us feel good, bring our spirits up when we are feeling low. Have you ever noticed that we all make these little distinctions when it comes to the concept of friendship? People will say “He’s not just my husband, he’s my best friend” or “A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life” (Isadora James). We are careful to distinguish that a friend has a certain place in our lives, putting family in yet another – and when those two cross, it is almost like a miracle.
Beyond the fact that our emotional needs are being met through the art of friendship, why do we make friends? It is something I have pondered this whole weekend. I know why I have friends, but I have such an unusual mix of personalities in my life – that I wonder if there is a common thread that has attracted me to these people in the first place. I have one friend who has basically been my friend my entire life – I have no memories of her not being a friend. To this day, I still have a compulsion to touch base with her on a semi-regular basis… a need to connect with her. I love her dearly, but our lives have taken two very different paths – and yet we still can get together and just be ourselves, even if years pass in between visits.
I then started cycling through all the friendships I can remember. At first I was focusing on common traits they may have, dissecting their persona’s to a base level. That process didn’t last long. Even at a young age my interests, which apparently encompass the friends that I make, have been varied. I could not find a common theme. I started to despair, thinking maybe I needed to shelve this train of thought and move on to something more productive. I decided to jot down a few notes for when I wanted to come back and revisit. As I was writing, the answer came rushing to me so fast that it was a jumble of thoughts. It was overwhelming. I had complete clarity – even though all these images were just popping into my brain. I could finally see the common thread.
Connection. It’s so simple it is hard to even explain. I have never been one to look for a cookie cutter friend. I have found my friends in the oddest places, from super markets to schools, from churches to bars, from ballet to martial arts. It’s not just that we share common interests either, for I can work alongside people and get along with them just fine, but it takes some connection in order for me to actually consider them a friend. I can remember one guy who studied Ju Jitsu with me and we didn’t become friends until one night I popped him in the face and rolled his contact so high up into his eye we had to go to the ER to get it removed. Of course, I was the one to drive him to the hospital and over the next few hours we hung out and, for lack of a better word, bonded. Seems the old adage about “breaking the ice” is true – although in this case, I broke his contact. Guess there are worse things to break in the spirit of friendship.
I could continue to regale you with stories over the unusual situations I have found myself and the good friends I have made in turn. At this point, however, I’m certain your mind is now thinking about the friends in your life and how you might have made them. I am obviously a lover of the unusual and slightly abnormal – so any great stories you can tell me of friendships made would make my day. For now, I think I might go and connect with an old friend.