With thanks to Doug and apologies to Khalil
I’m not a philosopher, or even a deep thinker. I don’t listen to Enya or subscribe to practices considered “New Age,” unless lemon flavored. I prefer prose to verse, and wish that the Brownings, Whitman, Frost and Anjelieu would kindly get to the point.
I treasure friendship, especially deep, enduring friendship. (On reflection, a friendship that doesn’t endure must not have been deep to begin.) Friends are treasures, close friends a gift from God.
I reject the phony measures of friendship so common on the Tonight Show stage and among the rich, famous and vote seeking. Air kisses are good only for slowing the spread of measles, and less believable than a winning ticket from the 145th Kentucky Debacle.
A person I make eye contact with is not a good friend. A person I shake hands with or air kiss is not a very good friend. A person I share a meal with is not a dear, dear friend. And a person who drops by the party for 15 minutes and brings piggies in a blanket is not my forever bestie.
Acquaintance, pal and buddy are among perfectly good words that span the chasm between “he looks kind of familiar” and reciprocal wedding toasts. Note to Hollywood and Capitol Hill: Admit it, you can’t stand half of your nearest and dearests.
I subscribe to the old saw that a handful of very close friends in a lifetime makes one fortunate indeed. My definition of a close friend is restrictive enough that I can’t envision being my close friend. Fortunately for me, a few folks have stooped that low, and they mean the world to me. This may be the only time I will go all soft and acknowledge it. But it’s true.
Our best friends tend to report for duty in unexpected ways. . .
Some are just always there because you share a name, DNA sequence and bunk beds. Only later do you discover you’d still love them if they were somebody else’s sibling.
Some are met pretending to be fighter pilots during second grade recess.
Some are met, draw close, grow apart, then settle into a comfortable, distant connection. The friendship will never be the same, isn’t supposed to be, but you care always, celebrate their happiness and mourn their losses.
Some are met in the workplace and are also weird wired: The kind of drinking buddies who stick around even when your liver demands soda and lime.
Some are met in the pits, after chasing but never catching up on the race track. Fast guys often have big hearts.
Some are met through a shared sports passion, combined with a strong survival instinct: You’re in Belo Horizonte, Brazil — the only Portuguese you know is Sergio Mendez y Brasil ’66 — and this one guy loves Paris, New York City, and practicing his English. What’s not to like?
Some are met across a picket fence or at the curb on trash day, and a glory-bound, lifelong conversation ensues.
How did you meet your truly good friends? I have no way of knowing, but I do know this: You will probably recognize them, and yourself, in the following passage. It was sent to me recently by that guy I met on trash day, and it hit me with clarity and insight despite being the work of a poet-philosopher-new-agey-icon.
If you like it, share it with your best friends and celebrate why you are.
“A youth said, ‘Speak to us of friendship,’ and he answered, saying:
Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.
When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “aye.”
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart.
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not; for that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth; and only the unprofitable is caught.
And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live, for it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”— Khalil Gibran