The other day I came across this quote from the ancient philosopher Aristotle:
What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.
This citation got me to thinking over the subject of “Friendship” and the importance it has played in my life over the years. I have mentioned in several recent blogs my inseparable friend when I was growing up, Ferman. Our friendship started when we were each five years old. It remained steady up until we were nineteen. He went his way in life (pursuing Jesus) and I went mine (pursuing the creative muses.)
We saw one another a few years later when he performed his sister’s wedding, At the time, I had just gotten out of the army. Then we didn’t see one another for fifty-five years and that was two years ago at a reunion in our home town of Okolona, Mississippi. The amazing thing was that we took up exactly where we had left off in our friendship all those years ago. We did not have to be standoffish in any respect.
When I got back home, I wondered how could a friendship endure for 55 years without any contact or maintenance. It didn’t take me too long to figure it out. Friendship must have three things in equal shares to exist: love, honesty and respect.
Love is a natural affection you have for the person. They make you laugh, think and feel appreciated. Honesty is the part of friendship where you aren’t afraid to level with one another about anything. You don’t hold back. Respect is where you identify with the other person as much as you do yourself. Ferman and I had all three of these things so it wasn’t hard for us to go on a 55-year hiatus and be able to pick up where we left off.
(Feature Photo: Ken and Jack in 1964 in Mexico City living it up. Fifty years later and we’re still going strong.)
(Mouse over picture for caption.)
I look back over my life and I remember the many friends I have had. The vast majority have floated out of my life over time due to one thing or another. More than likely it happened due to our taking on new likes and dislikes or changing where we lived or simply dropping out of one another’s lives. Many have disappeared though because I have lost the channel of contact with them.
I am lucky though to have held on to about a half-dozen friends at the moment whom I’ve known for over forty years—and we’ve kept in pretty close contact during that time. Unfortunately though, several of my long-time, close friends have passed on in recent years.
In this blog when I use the term friend, I am using it as Aristotle would have used it—meaning that two souls are almost wed. To him, human friendship was one of the greatest gifts in life.
Sometimes the word friend is used loosely as in the expression, “I have a friend who works at Walmart or I have a friend who is in the writing business.” We actually should be using the word acquaintance. A big difference exists between the two words acquaintance and friend. We can have tons of acquaintances but are blessed if we have a half-dozen real friends—meaning love, honesty and respect are involved.
So much of human survival is based on friendship. It is a necessary aspect of every human’s life as we are not self-sufficient in and of ourselves.
When I think about what makes someone a good friend, I think about all the characteristics of my own friends. We look out for one another and are there in times of need. A friend has to be someone I trust and who trusts me in return. Another important characteristic in a friend is someone whom I can talk to and who can make me laugh. Friends can change your life. Also we are most of the time judged by our friends.
In next week’s blog, I will give an excerpt from my novel CONTESSA. It shows the beginning of a friendship that ends up being extremely strong—even though its beginning makes one think there is no companionship possible. This passage even though presented as fiction is in fact based on a real life situation that I experienced. I am always trying to show you ways to take the plots of your life and turn them into short stories, screenplays and novels.
So, let today be friendship appreciation day in your life! Cheers for our friends!!