“It takes a long time to grow an old friendship.” Bernard Wolf
This morning I began my day by reading my daughter’s blog, “Everyday Extraordinary”. It’s mostly a photo journal but more often than not she does an incredible write up. I usually read it in the afternoon after work but for some reason I decided to check it this morning. I’m glad I did. She had written a very touching commentary on friendship. I was even moved to leave a brief comment which I don’t often do, and ended it with “God Bless Friendship”.
Let me tell you, it’s been on my mind the entire day. The path of friendship is an incredible and sometimes difficult journey. As a youngster our friendships with others begin as playmates first and foremost. They’re individuals we look forward to seeing so that we can have fun together, it’s what we know. At that age we don’t know a damn thing about the complexities of a real, in-depth friend relationship. Even as we begin school our concept of friendship is at this ‘playmate level.
As we move towards high school the dynamics of friendship begin to change. This usually begins to happen around 6th grade. It’s during those middle school years that friendships begin to fall into different categories. We have those we are very social with and trust enough to share secrets with, or what we usually call our best friends. Then there are those we associate with and are social with to a point, this group we don’t trust as much, but still call them friends. Then there are people we’re acquainted with, meaning we know and sometimes associate with them but we aren’t particularly close to them. This group are usually deemed acquaintances rather friends. This friendship philosophy usually stays in play through high school and college but changes dynamics again as we reach adulthood.
By the time we are adults we suddenly have more friends than we know what to do with! We have friends from childhood, friends from school, work friends, drinking or partying buddies, brothers, sisters and cousins who are also good friends, and in today’s era of social networking we also have friends we’ve made online! Like I said, more friends than we know what to do with. Needless to say, something’s got to give and it’s got to be friendships.
There aren’t enough hours in the day to maintain all those quality friendships, no way in hell! Fortunately people’s interest change and what we once had in common may do a slow fade, causing the relationship to grow apart naturally, but even with this natural atrophy we are sometimes forced to become more selective and choose the friends we want to remain close too, so we can work to maintaining those relationships. By the time we reach our thirties and definitely by our forties it’s not unusual for one’s circle of friends to shrink proportionately in size. By that time you’ve hung on to the friends that really matter. As you continue to age those friendships will continue to evolve in importance and new friendships will be established as well.
In my 61 years I’v had many, many friends. Some I’ve known damn near my whole life. I still have a few that I have known since early childhood , several I’ve known since grammar school and high school, and an assortment of others I’ve met through the years. Although I only see a handful of them on a regular basis I still consider all of them friends, neither time nor distance can erase that. Over the last ten years I’ve seen what were once very close friendships devolve into lesser relationships, and lesser relationships evolve into closer friendships. It happens. It’s the nature of the beast.
A friendship is a labor of love and takes work to keep it going. One must realize that a strong friendship is bound to have some hard times, it’s unavoidable. We are not always going to like what a friend does or says and likewise a friend is not always going to be in agreement with us. But when we find value in the relationship we learn to be more patient and overlook some things and compromise on others. The ability to communicate when there is a problem is critical. Oh my God! It almost sounds like a marriage! And sadly, like a marriage, despite your best efforts, sometimes friendships don’t always work out.
Although I know I haven’t always been the best of friends, I have been fortunate with long-lasting friendships. I pretty much know where I stand with the majority of the friends I associate with and I respect that. Sometimes I’ve had difficulty ‘turning the other check’ so to speak and have had some run ins with a few friends, but that’s to be expected. Even a good friend can only take so much.
Recently I had a minor experience with a close friend that caused me to think about our friendship a little. It was no biggie really, nothing that would end a friendship, I simply thought our friendship was at a different level, what I guess I would call the full disclosure level where friends can tell one another anything. Apparently that’s not where we’re at. Thank God there was no lying or bullshit involved, I appreciate that, and I’m sure he said nothing to me in an effort to spare my feelings, and I appreciate that also, but sometimes honesty is the best policy.
Besides, life is too short and friendships too precious to let the little things get in the way.
Good friends are a gift from God! Appreciate them! I do…