Wouldn't you agree? There's something special about knowing that we're not alone in something. It brings our world closer. It brings connections we didn't realize existed. It brings community. It certainly brings perspective! Without perspective we seem to wallow or worry in ways that don't help us. Come on, you know you've done it. But, friendship changes that. Friendship turns our eyes toward another instead of just focusing on us. A much needed salve for our self centered epidemic, no?
I love recalling the beginnings of friendships ... when there was a "What! You too?" moment as C.S. Lewis says. A stranger can become a friend at that moment, and a new turn in our human relations journey follows. Pretty soon there are multiple "What! You too?" moments and the friendship bond grows strong and sure.
There was the time a friend and I realized we were both middle-child "peace makers" and we could share numerous stories that seemed eerily similar from our families. Or the time a friend and I realized those formerly hidden health struggles we had could now be shared freely with one another ... allowing the burden to be set down for a little reprieve. What about you? What are some of the "What! You too?" moments that sparked a new friendship for you? I'd love to hear about it.
"What I have in mind instead is the authentic, truly admirable sort of relationship, the sort that was embodied in those rare pairs of famous friends."
In addition to Cicero's still relevant thoughts translated below I submit that friendship is life-giving. I have the gift of authentic friendships in my life and am so grateful. I see how they uplift even the dullest day, cheer away the pains of this broken world, and breathe new life into my hopes and dreams. What about your friendships? Please share your thoughts below.
Marcus Tullius Cicero on Friendship
And so friendship is quite different from all the other things in the world on which we are accustomed to set our hearts. For each and every one of those other objectives is specifically adapted to some single purpose—riches, to be spent; power, to secure obedience; public office, to win praise; pleasure, to enjoy oneself, good health, to be free from pain and make full use of one’s bodily endowments.
Friendship, on the other hand, serves a great host of different purposes all at the same time. It whatever direction you turn, it stll remains yours. No barrier can shut it out. It can never be untimely; it can never be in the way. We need friendship all the time, just as we need the proverbial prime necessities of life, fire and water. I am not speaking of ordinary commonplace friendships, delightful and valuable though they can be. What I have in mind instead is the authentic, truly admirable sort of relationship, the sort that was embodied in those rare pairs of famous friends.
Friendship, then, adds a brighter glow to prosperity and relieves adversity by dividing and sharing the burden. And another of its very remarkable advantages is this. It is unique because of the bright rays of hope it projects into the future: it never allows the spirit to falter or fail. When a man thinks of a true friend, he is looking at himself in the mirror. Even when a friend is absent, he is present all the same. However poor he is, he is rich: however weak, he is strong. And may I attempt to convey an even more difficult concept? Even when he is dead, he is still alive. He is alive because his friends still cherish him, and remember him, and long for him. This means that there is happiness even in his death—he ennobles the existences of those who are left behind. Take away the bond of kindly feeling from the world, and no house or city can stand. Even the fields will no longer be cultivated.
Marcus Tullius Cicero, Laelius: On Friendship, composed by Cicero in the summer of 44 BCE (translated from the Latin by Michael Grant, 1971), cited in Entersection
LIKEABILITY ... among other qualities and character traits, our kids need likeability. It's what brings favor, honor, respect from others, and leads to future 'promotability'. Likeability is defined as:
I would rather have one rose and a kind word from a friend while I'm here than a whole truck load when I'm gone. Happiness keeps you sweet, trials keep you strong, sorrows keep you human, failures keep you humble, success keeps you glowing, but ... only friends keep you going! (Anonymous)
I appreciate how this highlights the power and importance of friends and relationships. They are a refuge in life's everyday battles and have a way of bringing us perspective we might not otherwise have. During this season of my life with family and multiple jobs I know I have not paid enough attention to my friends. I don't want to have regrets about that so I know it's time to do something different. What are ways you prioritize your friendships amongst the demands of life? Share your comments below.
Wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, lover of dark chocolate and books, the beach, healthy living, meaningful education, and of course, friendship.