I Believe in Friendship
I believe in friendship. I am certain that if more of the world’s people took friendship more seriously, there would be far fewer enemies. I don’t believe in the casual and common use of the term, which too often extends the honorific to those of only passing acquaintance, or to those we do regular business with, but have little connection to. And certainly not in the fickle way of who is in or out of favor this week in the popularity contests that exist in society from pre-school on.
No, I have evolved my own meaning of friend that is serious and weighty. It is all too heavy a burden for some to be my friend. For I take the relationship very seriously. I also believe, because a I have observed that I am not alone in taking friendship as a serious responsibility and a treasure beyond description.
At my father’s funeral all the mourners walked by and stopped to shake our hands, touch our shoulders, or give a hug. One man’s words have stayed with me all these years. He took my hand in both of his in the way of older men who don’t hug or show affection and he told us that a man should count himself fortunate if he makes a few good friends in his life. With a net-yet-a-tear softness in his eyes, he said my father was one of his good friends and he would miss him. “If you all need anything …” I didn’t know this man well, but I knew in that moment with my father lying in his casket a few feet away that his words were true. I could call him today and ask him to go ‘round and see to my mother’s needs and it would be done. Not out of debt, but out of love of a friend.
I believe that if we allow ourselves to have close friends, we will be rich in so many ways. Those friends will be there to laugh and cry with us. Sometimes they will be the ones telling us we are going the wrong way, helping us to discern the more desirable path. And they will seek our counsel as they make their own decisions in life. They will shoot holes in our most precious dreams, and help us chase our silliest fantasies. They will sit and watch shows with us in silence. They will let us win games we are not that good at. Then surprise us by winning at their weakest sport.
I believe a friend is more valuable than almost any treasure. When one crosses our path, we should make the investment to get to know them. Friendships are built on hundreds of small encounters, thousands of little details. But when values and tastes coincide, when time spent with a person goes by all too fast, when we are as comfortable with them as with ourselves, we should recognize that friendship and love them.
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