What Does It Mean That We’re Friends?

Really, what does it mean that you and I are friends, or you and anybody else, or me and the same or different anybody else?  What does it mean?  Does it mean that we happened to be in the same class together and thought the same joke was funny and laughed at the same time, and then we laughed again, or rolled our eyes at the same thing later in the day or week or semester or whatever?  Does it mean that we started working at the same place on the same day or within the same week and formed something like a ‘traumatic bond’ after enduring the same experiences as ‘the new guys?’  Does it mean that we just happened to find ourselves in the same circumstances and discovered something similar in each other that we liked and have taken that something similar and made it grow by talking, sharing, and otherwise finding more and more similar things that we liked, enjoyed, disliked, or hated?  We found some commonality and enjoyed it in the other person…something like that?  Maybe it’s indistinct…maybe it just happened; we don’t know when, but it did.  Maybe it’s like what author James Boswell said – “We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed.  As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over.”  It just happened.

 

And then it starts to grow…that germinal moment or instance of something similar begins to grow in our sharing and time together.  Not only do we share experiences, but as time wears on, maybe we share emotions and dreams, hopes and disappointments.  Maybe our lives become more similar as we spend more time together and our experiences become shared, and our thoughts become shared, and our emotions, our reactions, our wants, dreams, likes and dislikes,  and finally our spirits…our spirits that join somehow in the sharing of those many things and others.  We begin to possess such similar thoughts that we can finish each other’s sentences and ideas for the other…our homes might become more familiar to each other, our cars, our children’s backpacks, and our coffee mugs…we are becoming, or have become part of each other.  If we’re females, older girls or women, maybe our monthly cycles have even adjusted to the same schedule…and consequently, we’re impatient at the same time, sad, bloated, hungry, not hungry, intolerant, more emotional…or none of those things, but in sync with each other nonetheless.  If we’re males, maybe we experience something similar with our biological rhythms the same way women do with their cycles, maybe.

 

What if we’re different?  What if it was the things that were not the same that brought us together, what if they were our opposite characteristics?  Some people say that opposites attract…people of different backgrounds and circumstances or personality traits, finding themselves together, whatever the event or situation, may feel a drawing together that is based on sharing what they don’t have in common.  People who are suddenly working elbow to elbow, brainstorming on projects, plans, or whatever, their differences pique an interest in the other and they begin sharing and sharing…and maybe even finding things in common that weren’t at first apparent…and friendship blooms.  Their differences become complementary, not ‘complimentary,’ as in “Hey, I like your shoes,” but ‘complementary,’ in that one’s strength enhances what might be a weakness or emptiness in the other…like in the movie Jerry Maguire, “you complete me.”  The one makes the other a whole person…they are or become what the other was missing in their life…in friendship or love.

 

So what does it mean that we’re friends?  We’ve already become friends and now we are friends, still, after all we’ve been through…whatever that can and/or might be.  As Aristotle suggested, have we become two bodies sharing one soul…or two seeds of the same or different types of plants that came to grow in the same spot of earth…two hearts growing as one?  In our backyard, we have a fan palm and a date palm that have been growing together in the same pot for upwards of 15 years.  I obtained the date palm from a friend’s back yard and put it in a container with dirt from the friend’s yard and brought it home and placed it in my yard and watered it and kind of ‘forgot’ about it.  The plant was in the spray-range of one of the sprinklers, so it got the water it needed and continued to grow without much effort or assistance from me.  There was a fan palm seed in the dirt from my friend’s yard that sprouted and began to grow in the pot that the date palm was in…and it’s been so many years and I never separated the plants…they grew larger than the plastic pot, split its sides and bored their roots into the ground, joining, intertwining…becoming one living rooted mass with their trunks and branches upwards of 15 and 20 feet in height.  To separate them would likely kill or severely damage at least one or both of them…they are two distinct plants but share an intricately woven root system…like people who have been friends for a long time…or brothers, sisters, lovers, spouses, mates…maybe….  These people’s lives have become enmeshed, intertwined, and/or overlapping…maybe they really have become one.  Or…maybe our friendships haven’t become this involved and serve different purposes and fulfill other needs.

 

Some of our friendships can be and are more compartmentalized, as they exist in particular places or arenas of our lives and not in others, either intentionally or because that’s just the way they’ve existed…so far anyway.  They are enriching and sustaining in specific contexts and don’t overlap with the other areas, except where they permeate our thoughts or people the stories we share.  We might have friends who are family members, our children or parents, maybe; friends of other family members, like our children’s or parents’ friends; work friends that are co-workers, or subordinates, or even our boss, or none of these; gym friends; child-hood friends; military or war-buddies; college friends who were classmates or professors; chess-playing friends from the internet or the city park; blogging friends or writing-group friends; dog-park friends; grocery-store friends; next-door-neighbor friends; and soft-ball or bowling-team friends, or racquetball friends.  Some of these relationships can be or might be more intimate or close than others and some might extend from one realm into another as they become closer and more involved in the whole of their lives…work friends become family friends – or even family members, gym friends become girl-friends, wives, and mothers of our children, next-door-neighbor friends might become family friends and in-laws… and then some of our child-hood or college friends might become the best friends in our long lives.  An old professor and friendly acquaintance of mine once explained that people sometimes enter our lives for a while and then go away just as freely or casually as they entered them.  These friends or significant people join our paths for a time, share wonderful events and experiences with us, learn and grow together, and then slowly fade apart…and then they go away – the relationship doesn’t end badly, it just ends, inexplicably…somehow.  They add flavor to our lives for a season, as we do to theirs, and then we each go our separate ways.  The substance of the friendship didn’t have to be enduring, and it wasn’t.

 

For those relationships that are more than temporal, that last through the ages in their varied contexts, what makes them do so?  What is the substance, the basis, the explainable part of why we’re friends?  As I mentioned above, is it because we endured a hardship together, were baptized by the same fire, got our sea-legs together, fell into a carpool together, started class at the same time…and whatever else…and began to share of ourselves, finding pleasant similarities or intriguing differences along the way?  And now that we’re friends – again – what does that mean?  I think it means that we probably trust each other, look forward to seeing each other, miss each other when one is away, help each other in random or specific ways, use each other as a sounding-board, feel free enough to vent our deepest angers and frustrations, help each other in times of crisis, cry on each other’s shoulders, celebrate in joy at the successes, encourage each other in the challenging times, admonish each other when we’re out of line, we accept each other to the point that our differences are as binding to each other as are our similarities; they have become part of the glue that keeps us together, we cause each other to think about things we wouldn’t normally be concerned with, force each other’s minds to consider other perspectives, validate the other’s concerns, we mean it with the entirety of our souls when we say “I’ve got your back,” and with everything that entails.  We depend on each other and we take each other for granted sometimes too and we understand the other’s manner of speaking and we’re comfortable being silent together and we can share a glance or moment of eye contact and understand the words that don’t need to be spoken and we can touch the other’s hand or offer an easy hug or handshake and those moments of contact are dear and speak from the soul, from me to you and then.

 

When we say that we are friends – you and I, or you and anybody else, or me and the same or different anybody else, it means that we have connected somehow, in some context or another, and that we enjoy and want to nurture and maintain that connection, that relationship – that friendship…somehow it enriches our lives…or completes us.

 

 

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12 responses

  1. Great piece here sir. Well written and thought out, covering all aspects of the subject. One thing I have always thought strange is when I have one friend from a particular part of my life meet another friend from an entirely different part of my life. It somehow seems surreal to me. Like the two people live on completely separate planes of existence, and now by bringing the two together I have created some sort of wormhole in the universe and things are no longer “right” anymore. Maybe its just me, but it just seems strange when that happens.

    Thanks for being my friend. But I am not sharing “one soul” with you!

    December 11, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    • seekraz

      Thank you for the nice words, Noble Sailor…and I’ve found that strange, too…it’s almost like the people shouldn’t or can’t exist at the same time and there must be some kind of space/time continuum mishap in order for them to be in your company simultaneously.

      And you’re welcome for being your friend – and whatever with you not wanting to share one soul with me! 🙂

      Thank you, too, Jason, for your friendship….

      December 11, 2009 at 5:15 pm

  2. Renae

    I agree with you both. When I get friends together from different areas of my life it is a weird feeling. Sometimes, even on fb it’s a bit weird to post something and have friends from all different areas of my life, both past and present, comment on it or view it.

    I also agree with Jason about not sharing “one soul” with you Scott. However, I will share your work schedule….even if the days off could be better.

    I do value your friendship. I don’t think I tell you that often enough.

    December 11, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    • seekraz

      Yes, Renae, it is truly weird. I wonder what makes us see it that way? Do we compartmentalize our lives to such an extent that even our friends seem out of place when we behold them in different circumstances with other friends who ‘belong’ there? How strange of us!

      And thank you…now I’m doubly crushed by the non-soul-sharing of my friends today…. 🙂 I’ll try to endure, somehow…snif….

      Thank you, too, for your nice words, Renae. I value your friendship, too. And thank you for joining my other friends here on the blog…it’s a nice surprise to see you here again…I would say it’s weird or strange, in the above context, but it’s more pleasant than either of those. 🙂

      December 11, 2009 at 8:44 pm

  3. Norva-Toreador

    I agree with you and Renae. 🙂 “When I get friends together from different areas of my life it is a weird feeling.” Sometimes feel it too……

    December 11, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    • seekraz

      Like a strange mix…and it does feel weird to be one of those ‘out of place’ friends, too…thank you, Norva-Toreador. 🙂

      December 12, 2009 at 6:05 am

  4. me

    i think the different friends/wormhole/space-time continuum mishap is because there are different needs that different friends meet. one might make you laugh your ass off, while the other is the one you trust and tell your deepest secrets to. it’s even weirder when they meet one another and hate each other, when you love them both equally, though differently.

    i think the athiest here did speak of “souls,” . . . hmmmm

    December 11, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    • seekraz

      You are probably right, good doctor…but what of that conundrum then? Is it because they know the dirt or baggage of the other or is there some evolutionary-based jealousy and suspicion in the mix…do they represent an unchosen intimacy or are they an outsider threatening the safety and cohesiveness of the clan…or something else?

      And yes, the atheist did speak of souls…and gilded angels’ wings and other sundry things…the sand-castles on distant shores of our imaginations and prethought crumbling ‘neath the time and tide of our introspection and then….

      December 12, 2009 at 6:29 am

  5. Chris

    Very thought provoking and well written, especially as we see sites like Facebook where people have 100’s of “friends” on their list.

    While it has been many years since we shared the same diminution of time and space, there are only a few people who I can honestly say I think about with fond memories and know that the person I am today has been shaped in some way by their friendship. I consider you one of those people and will always value the times we shared.

    December 12, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    • seekraz

      Thank you, Chris, for sharing such deep sentiments…you’re the one childhood friend that I still have. And yes, while there was a gap of several years (ok, a couple decades!) between or last and recent contacts, you are part of the pleasant memories that I had those many years ago…. Thank you again – and thank you, too, for visiting my blog and sharing your thoughts. I appreciate your taking the time to do so. 🙂

      December 12, 2009 at 5:28 pm

  6. byronhj

    There are a seemingly infinite number of mysteries to be explored in life, and one of the most commonly experienced is the nearly touchable yet incalculable bond that forms between the heart/soul/mind and/or body of two people. Whether romantic or platonic, or as I think most relationships are, a combination of the two, it is a palpable connection that everyone is aware of, but no one can well measure or define.
    Is it chemical, is it spiritual. Or some emotional/mental thing in between? Is it deeper or shallower than we can understand?
    I find it fascinating that it might be something, should we ever discover its origins, that makes us realize we are closer kin to the animals than we thought, or more different than we realized.

    Thanks Scott! Great food for thought!

    December 15, 2009 at 9:12 am

    • seekraz

      You are, indeed, my friend, the poet and sage I described on the other post about the clock finding the wind…and articulate, too. I love your comments, sharing your thoughts and a glimpse of your ‘soul.’ And so much more ‘food for thought.’ Thank you, Byron.

      December 15, 2009 at 9:48 am

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