I’ve been thinking a lot about the meaning of the word “friend”. The theme of this month’s The BeZine is “The Joys of Friendship” and I got to thinking about how that word has changed over the years and a few things about it that I have noticed.
Most people I know tend to separate their friends into categories. I know someone who classifies them as “A, B & C” friends; “A” friends are the closest, “B” friends the next closest and so on. The “A” friends include best friends and those in the “Circle of Trust”.
Others might say they have friends vs. acquaintances. Still others prefer to separate their “real life” friends from their “online/Facebook” friends (although I believe that friendships formed online can be just a strong, lasting and influential as those made in real life).
Why do we do this? Why do we categorize, classify and separate our friends? I think, in part, it comes down to having to prioritize some people above others. Friendship has often been compared to a garden, in that you have to “water” it, pull the “weeds” and otherwise “tend” to it in order for it to thrive. In other words, you have to devote time and energy to it. Otherwise, it wilts and fades, even dies. There are only so many hours in a day, and if you try to devote all your waking hours to your friends, then you neglect yourself and your own, personal “garden”. That has to be tended, too. I think real friends will understand this, and even encourage it.
Of course everyone has probably encountered “frenemies” (think of the saying “With friends like that, who needs enemies?”) or “fair-weather” friends. A lot of times you don’t know if a person is a true friend until things get tough. That is the litmus test of a real friendship – if they will stand by you through good times AND bad, if you can count on them to be there for you when life throws you a curve-ball, then consider yourself lucky to have such a person in your life.
For those of you who have a hard time making human friends, don’t forget that sometimes animals can be the best of friends! To me, they pretty much embody all of the qualities of a good friend: They listen, they care, they can empathize, provide you with joy and laughter, comfort you when you’re sick or sad, be there for you when you need someone to talk to…just because they can’t talk back, doesn’t mean they can’t communicate.
I have had many friendships over the course of my life so far. Some have been much closer than others. Some have stood the test of time, while others faded. Some who I thought would be there forever are no longer part of my life. Some come in and out of my life in cycles, and we pick up right where we left off, as if no time had passed at all.
In closing, I would like to share a bit of wisdom that I discovered a long time ago. The author is anonymous (which I find especially fitting) and it has given me something to ponder many times, at different points in my life. Maybe it will resonate with some of you, as well. 🙂 Cherish your friends while you have them. Life is far too short not to.