There are a few topics about which it’s OK to be saccharine. Sweet, sentimental words can apply to friendship because there is an element of romance in these relationships. When we look through the literature that regards friendship we often find the poetic language of irrational meanings. For instance, William Shakespeare wrote, “Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find.”
The concept of friendship can be defined in a dictionary, but it’s one of the most tricky to explain. It’s not taught as a school subject but it’s something we often discover in a school setting. Yet formal education is not required to learn the meaning of friendship. If one has not learned the meanings of friendship, then more experience is necessary.
In one school-related friendship, dad and step-mom hosted a young Thai foreign exchange student for one high school term. Anong was a quiet, intelligent teen who excelled in all of his school lessons, including friendship. After his graduation, he returned home and was a monk for a couple of years, then moved back to the United States to settle with the rest of his family on the West Coast. Anong remains a close family friend. His friendship has been so good that I’m reluctant to describe it in detail. In the telling, the friendship would lose something important and innocent.
“Friendship marks a life even more deeply than love. Love risks degenerating into obsession, friendship is never anything but sharing.”—Elie Wiesel
Wiesel describes feelings that are deeper than romance because romance is often a fleeting state of mind that takes place in our efforts towards finding a significant other. This is not to dismiss the intersection of having an intimate partner who is also a best friend. When this happens, the partnership feels more sacred. However, more often than not, friendships outlast romantic pairings. At least in my experience, the friendship with my best friend lasted longer than two long-term relationships. The memories of that friendship will probably be more treasured than many others.
A true blue friend accepts us as we are, yet calls us out on our BS in constructive ways. That friend is there when we’re feeling powerless and affirms the strengths we have. We do the same in return. It’s sometimes stated that friends are the people who know us well, but like us anyway.
“What is a friend? I will tell you… it is someone with whom you dare to be yourself.”–early 20th century columnist and Presbyterian minister, Frank Crane
In basic terms, friendship evolves when two or more acquaintances discover they have common insights, interests, or tastes that other people do not possess. The friendship grows when each party becomes truly interested in the other party. We might describe friendship as a mutual admiration society. The friendship is more vital when we honor the differences as well as the similarities. In other words, one of the best qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Ludwig van Beethoven. “Never shall I forget the days I spent with you. Continue to be my friend, as you will always find me yours.”
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“In other words, one of the best qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” That sums it up well.