Bridge of Life

Friendship, what is it, what does it mean, what kind of expectations do we have about it?

What I have observed is that many people call acquaintances friends. For many years this confused me as my definition of friendship went deeper. A friend to me was someone that could be counted upon to hold my stories privately, to lend an ear if there were a crisis, to be available and emotionally supportive if such an occasion arose. As well as someone to enjoy a film or ocean view with.

Another form of acquaintanceship that I have noticed is the bond formed between co-workers, neighbors, board members. People will refer to each other, if they have been in close contact, as friends but what does it really mean?

So what is an acquaintance? Perhaps it is someone you love spending time with or go to dinner with occasionally. It could be someone you visit in another country or state that if they lived closer you would spend much more time with and give and get emotional support from. Closeness can and does exist despite geographical distance. Proximity allows for spontaneity and the opportunity to grow relationships.

Then there are the friends that we have stayed in touch with from our childhood. The bond of nostalgia exists here. Childhood friends can be really close because of a shared history. With some we share only the past; to be close in the present we need to have shared interests.

Understanding the complexities of the word friendship makes me wish I had many more words to express these relationships, the way the Eskimos have many words for snow. It took me years to grasp the differences and sometimes to let go of any expectations I might have had on what friendship means. I can be the best friend I know how to be and treat people in my circles the way I want them to treat me, without expecting them to respond as I do. How about you?

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