Two or three weeks ago, I read and responded to a blog post on the topic of friendships. That posting began succinctly with a statement to the effect that strangers can become best friends, but that best friends can become strangers or worse – people who hurt or betray us. The gist was that friendships change and we must be prepared to adapt, while remaining kind, honest and loving.
With these words as the impetus, I spent a long morning in thought. I wrote as I meditated on friendships, relationships, and our need for connection with others. And because I put so much of myself into it, I wanted to include it in my own blog.
Our friendships are more numerous than our romantic relationships and are as varied as the people we share them with. They begin and are based on so many factors – where we live, activities we participate in, where we work, go to school, or exercise ~ each circumstance, a jumping off point from casual acquaintance to the possibility of true life-long friendship.
One thing about people that doesn’t change is that they change – not necessarily in big ways – but we are all changing. Every day our experiences and interactions adjust our knowledge, our feelings, and our beliefs. We are still ourselves, but we have a changed view of the world and the people we share it with. Because we are each involved in the same process, there is the possibility that some differences will begin to effect relationships.
Sometimes, also, relationships are formed around a developmental task the individuals are working on. Their relationship is part of their unconscious push to work on that task. When one or both complete that task, then the relationship dissolves. If someone continues to form relationships that result in the same sort of challenges, that can indicate where an individual is striving to grow. This also explains why some friendships fade away at certain times in our lives – early childhood, grade school, young adulthood, etc. Those are natural boundaries in life’s progression.
Just like romantic relationships, some friendships can be life-long bonds between soul mates. Losing a friend like that can be as life-changing as a divorce or a death. I lost my best friend through death. Nothing could ever change our history, our mutual respect, the experiences we went through together, or the unconditional love we shared, but with every passing year we were changing. She was very deeply immersed in a life focused on a fundamentalist religion while I was pulled in a completely different direction spiritually. Though she is gone now and I’ll never know with certainty, I believe our friendship would have survived these differences, but some of our closeness would have been lost, because our beliefs were no longer shared in common. (I think particularly of her today – her birthday was October 13.)
Though it probably sounds rather cynical, it seems life is composed of one loss after another. We strive continually for love, peace and happiness, but those greatest of desires are elusive and fleeting. Despite our disappointments and losses, we get up, brush ourselves off, and with hope as our inspiration we fight onward. If we’re fortunate, our lives are a series of serene interludes seasoned with the blissful highs of exuberant happiness and breathtaking love and our lows only the briefest of punctuations, the poignancy that underlines the sweetness of our highs.
And friendship ~ it is the best and dearest of what our lives can hold. It’s our friendships that make our lives. And how happy I am to learn that despite a busy schedule and limited social outlets, there is still the hope of great friendship.
What I’ve learned in this wondrous world of cyber connectedness is that time, age, circumstance, and geographic separation do not constitute barriers to friendship; it takes curiosity, respect, a mutual desire for connection, and a willingness to invest the self. Cyber friendships are a pen-pal kind of friendship, but I have great faith in that mode. Much of my best friendship was based on letters. My best friend and I were apart geographically more years than we lived near one another.
Written words can be a more precise and deliberate mode of communication. The act of writing itself creates a secure and open atmosphere. It lends an intimacy that makes it easy to reveal the authentic person. Within the bounds of such trust and sharing lies the basis of lasting friendship.
In my life I have many relationships ~ family, friends, coworkers. Despite the numbers of them, none come even close to the kind of friendship I shared once upon a time. I have to wonder why. Is it my time of life? Have I changed so much that such closeness is not possible? Was it a developmental task or a series of developmental tasks that kept us in tandem for so long? Whatever it may be, I am enjoying the friendships I am building in the ether. They offer me the opportunity to experience other cultures and lives. There are a couple that I really care about, though I must admit, I feel more like an aunt, than a friend. Perhaps this is my way of holding onto youth. Certainly, there is much more room for reflection here.
I will wind this up by sharing some songs. My best friend and I had a custom of “giving” each other songs from time to time.
I gave her this one:
You’ve Got a Friend by James Taylor
She gave me this one:
That’s What Friends are For by Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight & Elton John
And I will leave you with a newer one I enjoy very much:
Hi, Friend by DeadMau5