How much a person comes to depend upon friendship in a lifetime is beyond comprehension to ordinary thought. As author Massimo Pigliucci says of Aristotle, ‘Aristotle’s opinion was that friends hold a mirror up to each other; through that mirror they can see each other in ways that would not otherwise be accessible to them, and it is this (reciprocal) mirroring that helps them improve themselves as persons. Friends, then, share a similar concept of eudaimonia [Greek for “having a good demon] and help each other achieve it. So it is not just that friends are instrumentally good because they enrich our lives, but that they are an integral part of what it means to live the good life.’
Having been witness to some quite exemplary examples of friendship, it is only natural to feel that warmth seep into you and make you want to discover the joy of having to build a relation with a person that’s compatible to you yet again, over and over.
The previous month saw the passing away of one of the most cherished of relatives, leaving an empty place that is but an ode to friendship. What moves on, always, is never any person, or any relation, I think. It’s just the concept that goes on to take a place of secondary importance in our own minds.
I quote Andrew Sullivan from Love Undetectable: Notes on Friendship, Sex and Survival, “You can tell how strong the friendship is by the silence that envelops it. Part of this reticence is reflected in the moments when friendship is appreciated. If friendship rarely articulates itself when it is in full flood, it is often only given its due when it is over, especially if its end is sudden or caused by death. Suddenly, it seems, we have lost something so valuable and profound that we have to make up for our previous neglect and acknowledge it in ways that would have seemed inappropriate before…”
In the recent past, I had this soul awakening, thunderstorm-in-the-mind, eye opening experience, in that order, regarding my own friends. The whole support system that I thought I had turned out to be illusory, and it dawned that different people call out to, and for, different aspects of you. The ones you are friends with the most are not necessarily the ones you get to spend the most time with, and the ones with whom you do indeed share laughter, tears and insecurities with, are not necessarily the ones you want to be with. The people I had, I have them now too, I do. They are good people, just people who do not see things as I do; or the plain truth, people who are not in a symbiotic relation with friends. Free spirits, in other words!
Friends of family, friends since school, friends, that are family. Blessed are those that have them. Ties, that go deeper than conceptual understanding. People, who reinforce the goodness in people. Ones that stand strong, unswayed by the test of time. It feels wonderful to be a witness to such a bonding. It’s a kind of an anchor – at a time when your own belief systems take a hit.
Note – The quotes from writers Andrew Sullivan and Massimo Pigliucci are largely courtesy of articles on Brain Pickings, a personal blog by Maria Popova.