The political climate in the U.S. appears to be creating division rather than union; I hear at least once a day, “I have had to unfriend another person on Facebook.” In light of this, I have found myself examining closely what I think friendship means, the rights and responsibilities of both being a friend and calling another person a friend. As with most things in life, friendship, what it is and what it means, is complicated!
I looked up the dictionary definition of friendship:
“The state of being friends.”
Well, that was helpful…not! What happened to the rule about not using the word or any form of the word in the definition of a word??? I would have failed many fourth grade spelling tests with definitions like this one!
This led me to look up the definition of friends:
“a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.”
Am I any closer to knowing exactly what a friend is? I am hung up on the “mutual affection” part. If we each like the other equally then we are friends. But, if I like you less than you like me, we are not friends because we do not share a “mutual affection” for one another? Hmmm…maybe I don’t understand what is meant by “mutual affection.”
Mutual – “held in common by two or more parties.”
Affection – “a gentle feeling of fondness or liking.”
Fondness – “affection or liking for someone or something.”
Liking – “a feeling of regard or fondness.”
Regard – “Attention to or concern for something.”
Let’s just say that the dictionary was of no use in helping me to define in concrete terms what a friend really is. The best that I can discern here is that a friendship exists as long as the feelings between the two persons are equal. If we only like one another a little, and it is equally a little, we can be friends.
To me, this sounds more like an acquaintance.
Acquaintance – “a person one knows slightly, but who is not a close friend.”
I almost thought that I had this all figured out. An acquaintance is just someone you know slightly, but for whom you have no mutual gentle feeling of fondness. And then the definition had to use the qualifier “close” friend. I just want to know how to define friend. Don’t complicate the issue with close friend!
After spending a few minutes laughing about my useless travels through the dictionary, my thoughts became a little more serious. Though friendship is a noun, it is hard to define it as such. When I was a child, I was taught that a noun was a person, place or thing. That definition has been expanded to also include an action or an idea. Ah! Now we are getting somewhere. An action or an idea…
Friendship is one of those…but which one?
I started to jot down my personal ideas about friendship.
- Always be there, in the good times, in bad times, and in the in between times.
- Don’t be afraid to speak the truth or to hear the truth.
- Be loyal in words and actions.
- Laugh, cry, laugh, cry, and then laugh and cry some more.
- Celebrate each other’s wins and losses as if they are your own.
- Honor both your similarities and your differences.
- Create a safe place for vulnerabilities.
- Be a positive mirror for one another.
- Don’t let the little things tear you apart, or the big things be the not things that keep you together.
- Share at least a little bit of joy with each other as often as possible.
Be. Don’t be. Laugh. Cry. Celebrate. Honor. Create. Share.
Friendship is definitely and action! At least in as much as I understand it.
I would not be writing this post, at least not here as a Tuesday in Texas post on Sifted Together, if Tracey and I had not become friends, sharing a friendship that has given me the insight to create the above list of what I believe friendship to be. We have laughed and cried over big things and over little things, during good times and during not so good times. We have shared the thrill of success and the agony of defeat. Some days the agony of defeat has come in the form of recipes and photos that just didn’t work. Such moments have elicited both laughter and tears from both of us, often simultaneously. Lol! In the end, I’m fairly certain that we have laughed way more than we have cried, though. We are brutally honest with one another. It’s a fact; sometimes that brown food just does not look good no matter how pretty the plate on which you place it. And sometimes the photo that you think is terrible is really pretty good!
During the early part of this month when Tracey was so sick, I kept things going here on the blog. And last week, after she was feeling a little better, she gave me a break and handled Friday’s post so that I could enjoy time with a friend who was visiting from out of town. Neither of us had to ask for help or worry about ill feelings. We both knew what the other needed…and those needs were met with sincere words and loyal actions. That’s what friends do for each other. It’s as simple as that.
We might even qualify as close friends, but that’s a whole other discussion for another time.?
During my excursion through dictionaries, the best definition that I found for friend is from The Urban Dictionary:
…people who are aware of how retarded you are and still manage to be seen in public with you, people who make you laugh till you pee your pants, people who cry for you when one of your special items disappears. When you don’t have enough money to get an ice cream, they chip in. Friends are people who know all of your internet passwords. Friends would never make you cry just to be mean.
Well, you can skip the money for ice cream, but coffee…if there’s not enough money for coffee, you bet there’s some chipping in going on!