February 18, 2011

Real Friendship in a Time of Casual Acquaintances

"Friendship is more than acquaintance, and it involves more than affection. Friendship usually rises out of mutual interests and common aims, and these pursuits are strengthened by the benevolent impulses that sooner or later grow. The demands of friendship for frankness, for self-revelation, for taking friends' criticisms as seriously as their expressions of admiration or praise, for stand-by-me loyalty, and for assistance to the point of self-sacrifice are all potent encouragements to moral maturation and even ennoblement.

In our age, when casual acquaintance often comes so easily, and when intimacy comes too soon and too cheaply, we need to be reminded that genuine friendships take time. They take effort to make, and work to keep. Friendship is a deep thing."
~William J. Bennett

I find that so many of us, many with 400 "friends" or more, still feel alone ... having no deep human relationships. We can access each other in seconds ... and, perhaps because of this, have lost the stomach for enduring with each other through time and circumstance in order to form solid connections.

Additionally, we seem to cringe at the idea of committing to anything that takes more than half an hour, and so miss out on opportunities where friendships could flourish. For example, every time I mention that I dance with a hip-hop crew and we rehearse twice a week for two hours, mouths drop open, eyes glaze over, and people are amazed that I give so much of my time to "one thing!" Yet, this dedicated time to a group of people and something that I love has resulted in some real friendships. So, being willing to commit to one thing may actually prove to be more valuable than doing lots of different things.

I was particularly touched by Bennett's statement, because I'm finding more and more that it is my "real" friends who are having the most impact on my life, on who I am. My understanding of what it means to be a friend and to be befriended has grown exponentially since my 20's ... and, quite frankly, it's a challenge some days to remain accessible and tuned in.

But, overall, I am deeply grateful to those in my life who have found me worth their time .. who have stayed with me through many adventures .. who have made the "effort" to keep me .. and are enjoying the journey with me.

It's also inspiring to think of the friendships that are yet to be formed ... the unknown faces and lives that may pop into my life at any moment and who will then look back with me upon that moment years later with amazement that something so wonderful could have been born out of one simple moment!

Maybe today, take a moment to thank your "real" friends for loving you so unconditionally, for bailing you out, for setting your straight, for laughing and crying with you, and for seeing in you what you have a hard time seeing in yourself.

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