Among the first definitions found in the Merriam-Webster dictionary for “friend” are: a person you like and enjoy being with, one attached to another by affection or esteem, one that is not hostile.
This is my brother whom I gave great affection for and hold in high esteem. But if you Google the definition of “friends”, you’ll find that their definition exclude relatives, so for the purposes of this little note, he doesn’t count as a friend – although for the record he is one of the closest people to me in the world (despite whatever it is he is wearing around his neck in this photo which reminds me of the director & writer Peter Bogdanovich).
And this is Kate Moss. And why is she pictured here you might fairly ask. The answer is because that same Google definition also defines “friends” as typically exclusive of sexual relations. For the record I have never had sexual relationships with Kate Moss, nor I have I ever met her. However, if I had met her or had a sexual relationship with her I would like to think that we might have become friends … who am I kidding?
I am a firm believer that “friends” are one of the most important things that we can have. Over the course of ones life “friends” will come and go – childhood friends, school friends, work friends, acquaintances – but some friendships will stick, they will stand the test of time, they will be those trusted ones that you come to love as if they were family. And that’s the essence of what I’m writing about, those “friends” that stand the test of time and what it feels like to lose a real “friend.” Take a moment and see how many you can count that fit that description – those “friends” that respect you, that hold you in high affection, that call you in the midst of a crisis.
Friendship requires work (this and what follows are purely my opinion which you are free to disagree with or not), they require tremendous listening skills, they require the ability not to be judgmental immediately and they require the ability to forgive. They are found on two-way streets and require more work than most people (my opinion again) are willing to put in. So when you lose a friend it hurts that much more and if you’re smart, you do whatever you can not to lose those friendships.
In the last few years I can count the number of friendships that I have lost, and not a day goes by that I don’t mourn theses losses. I mourn these losses because I can’t just go out and replace them the way I might replace a lost wallet filled with credit cards or set of keys (two examples of things that take some effort to replace and along the way create short-term aggravation). I would like to be judgmental about some of these lost friendships, but I’m not – I’m incredibly sad.
And for those friendships where I did something heinous that was not forgiven, I live with that responsibility. And for those friendships lost for reasons of misunderstandings, miscommunications, or mistakes that someone else made and wasn’t able to come to terms with their part of the responsibility, my heart is open that one day those friendships might be rekindled.
Being non-judgmental is hard and runs counter to most of our instincts. Really listening to someone else is hard too because while we may be taught to listen before we speak, very few people really do that. Instead we are thinking of what we want to say and in doing so we drown out the words of the person speaking to us, and if that person is asking to be forgiven for something, it’s even harder and we might never hear what is really being said.
Friendships are lost for so many reasons, none of which can balance the pain one might feel in losing a “friend,” because shared memories will always be there to remind you of what you had and have lost. And that’s far worse than losing a sock after doing laundry – socks are sold all over the place. Friendships can’t be bought and sold. And I would like my friendships back …