FriendshipFriend a very precarious word. I think it has been used too casually to express an acquaintance instead of what is truly a friend. The dictionary describes a friend as someone whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations. An acquaintance, however, is knowledge of a person acquired by a relationship less intimate than friendship. Interesting comparison.

I have many acquaintances but not many friends. I meet a lot of people in my work and although I enjoy them, I find I don’t cultivate friendships like I use to do when I was younger. As I get older I find I have to really go out of my way not to spend most of my time by myself. I don’t want to blame age. I really don’t. My meter has gotten more sensitive to the stories and gossip that seems to be the topic of conversation. I have listened to it for a long time and it seems the world today is cultivating more of it. I don’t want to always blame our tech world but we seem to be inundated with so much information that it seems to be the course we take. After years of listening to the hype, I find I want to go back to the silence. I sometimes believe ignorance is bliss. It reminds me of the film Being There with Peter Sellers where everyone thought he was such a great thinker but actually he was quite uneducated and a man of few words. Very few words.

That was not me. I had such a hard time with silence. I felt I had to fill the air with conversation even though it was unnecessary and frivolous. I wasn’t comfortable enough with myself to allow the silence. I believed I had to prove how smart I was by constantly jabbering on about nothing in particular. But now, even though I do talk more than I should, I try to be more aware of my rambling.

And that’s when real friends show up. They jump in when they know I have made the point once too often and gently remind me to wind things up. I could very easily use the ADD trump card (which I’m sure I have…was thrown out of too many classes in high school for talking. I was just bored. My mind was rushing ahead of everything and nothing seemed to move fast enough). I know my attention span is ridiculously short and I interrupt people not because I don’t want to hear what they say but because the voices in my head tell me to move on. It is embarrassing and somewhat annoying. But many times I’m not even aware I’m doing it. The acquaintances will think I am just rude but my friends who know me will filter it out and move on. Thank God for them. I am so grateful for having those people in my life. They are there when I need help and I’m afraid to ask. They are there to support me when I have tried something in my career that is out of the box and they have shown up to cheer me on. And they are there when I need a good kick in the butt to remind me that I need to be more aware of showing up to be a friend to not only them but to others.

Time will pass by too quickly and I’ll realize I haven’t spoken to a friend in a very long time. But when I do it’s as if no time has passed and we will pick up where we left off. No need to explain why it’s been so long. Just happy to find out what is happening now and realize how much I have missed them.

Has it been a while since you have spoken to your friend? No guilt here. Time slips by and even more so as you get older. Just a gentle reminder that the time is now. It has helped me so much to get out of my head and listen to my friend’s adventures. It has reminded me of the simple joys in a life of laughing at the silliest things that only I and my friend have done. I encourage you to contact that friend as soon as possible. Because that is the bond of mutual affection at its finest.

2 Responses

  1. Patricia Taylor July 26, 2013 / 7:29 am

    I loved this essay on friendship!

    I struggle, too, with finding the time to reach out to friends I haven’t spoken with in a while. So much water flows under this aging bridge that it can be a real ordeal to try and catch people up on what’s been happening without it turning into a soap opera or a grand opera! Especially if the news is not positive or jazzed-up with success stories. The burden of guilt over not being in contact and that river of events and thoughts cascading past me can turn into a real moat surrounding a pretty tall, thick wall of isolation and non-communication between me and my friend.

    That’s when I remind myself that real friends listen well, as well as speak. If I can remember that the big gift I can give myself and the people I love is to simply be present and to really LISTEN to them, then it’s a whole lot easier for me to pick up the phone or get on Skype or make a date to meet someone I haven’t spoken to in quite a while. I don’t feel so worried then about whether I am speaking or silent. And sometimes – often in the most personal and testing of times – just simply sitting next to someone you love, sipping tea, sharing food, helping with a chore, bearing witness, is the most important way to show true friendship. That makes it really easy to either say something or simply sit there.

    Everyone everywhere wants to be seen and needs to be heard.

    • Kris Evans July 26, 2013 / 9:08 am

      Thanks for your comment. You very eloquently expressed what I think a lot of people feel. At the end of the day, what is vital to us is to be seen and heard. It really is that basic. I think in this fast moving world taking the time to communicate and really listen is more important now than it has ever been.

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