“That’s What Friends Are For…”
by Stephen Doherty
August 29th, 2021
“A friend is someone that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” –William Shakespeare
A wise man once said, “Friends are the family we get to choose.” My mother used to say that our lives are nothing more than flowing rivers with friendships acting as feeding tributaries. Such a beautiful metaphor that softly underscores its value and necessity.
Life is impossible to live alone but how many people are truly isolated amongst the crowds? How many rivers have run dry absent sources of additional water? How many streams have become polluted and useless with sewage? How many creeks have become tepid and staid absent a strong and vibrant current?
We read and hear a lot about mental health these days. Every day, some new mental “affliction” is added to the list of of treatable conditions. I often think of Crocodile Dundee’s response to his girl friend as she attempted to explain to him what psychiatrists do.
Confused, Dundee replied, “Doesn’t he have any mates?” I wonder how many psychiatrists would be put out of business if everyone merely had a trusted and dependable “mate” to run things by? How many tragedies, of an infinite nature, might have been avoided but for the intervention of a trusted confidant?
Someone once asked me, “Are friendships eternal?” I would reply, simply, “No.” True friendships, like a garden, require care and an investment of time and attention to truly flourish. Oh, I’m sure we all have friends that we once knew that will forever occupy an affectionate place in our hearts. But the very nature of true friendship mandates some measure of continuous effort and input to remain viable and worthwhile.
Maybe to some degree, it depends on how we define our friendships and how we measure that respective value. I have learned over time that great memories don’t always translate to friendship in perpetuity.
I do know one thing with certainty. A life absent great friends is a daunting and precarious way to live it. Everything we do is more precious in relation to the people we share it with. Family is the single most powerful generator of joy and happiness in our lives but are enhanced and magnified by the lens of our circle of friends.
True friendship has no illusions, for it reaches that part of our nature that is beyond our imperfections. At its core it is an eclectic blend of trust, love, and shared experiences – a product of spiritual comradery. It is enough that we have the divine power of making friends and we leave it to that power to determine who our friends shall be.
Indeed, friendship does not sprout under the guise of calculated choice but arrives rather like sleep when we are not thinking about it and least expect it. Our only task then is to embrace it with the faith and happiness it deserves and a humble and grateful heart. Because at the end of the day, friendship is God’s most precious lifeline. Who among us would deny the value or necessity of that priceless gift?
“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words” –C.S. Lewis