I’ve been thinking a lot about Friendship. What it means to me and what it means, or appears to mean, to some people. To me friendship is steadfast, stalwart, undying, undaunted, and true. In social media, even in my own modest circle of friends, I’m reading stories and seeing behavior that make Friendship appear fragile, fickle, unsteady, unstable, and capricious.
So, looking just at social media alone, I’ve seen the rise and fall of almost meme-like “tests of friendship” posts that are rather generic and weird to me. More recently I’ve seen insulting, sometimes downright obscene, “Unfriending” of “friends” over political differences.
A friend is a friend. Even if sometimes you pick up your toys and go home, you always go back to play. Even if you disagree with the way they voted. Find out why they voted the way they did. They may have a reason that, based on their understanding of the world, makes sense…don’t just assume they suddenly became a bigoted jerk or a wide-eyed ideologue. Differences of opinion make a friendship rich, interesting and stretches your brain and soul to listen and learn and, conversely, to share an alternate way of interpreting something and teaching. You might never agree, but you can share differing viewpoints. What a gift to be able to explore a different perspective on the same thing. What a great way to learn, see and experience more. Can you imagine how boring conversation gets to be if you are in constant agreement with your friends? How many ways of saying “I agree completely” are there?
Then there are the “In order to see who my friends really are…” and “if you want to remain my friend follow these instructions to the letter…” threats. These tests of friendship are simply weird. Especially the step-by-step way a person is required to respond. If you share instead of cut and paste you aren’t really my friend. Really? How randomly interesting. If you maybe were busy that day and didn’t see the post so did nothing, you aren’t really my friend. Wow, OKaaay. To prove you are my friend, you must cut and paste just the right section and re-post it in just this certain way. Sounds more like an initiation into some infantile secret society.
A friend is a friend even if it is someone you USED to run with, share books, movies, lyrics and stories with until the one day something flipped. There was some unremembered controversy or anger or misinterpretation. Misunderstanding seems a trivial word in comparison to what it felt like. However, it was work changes and life changes NOT animosity that distanced you. You still may not really know what changed but you still miss this person, still consider her a friend, still hold onto good memories, yes, and bad. If you saw her on the street today you’d feel joy and hug her. In fact you’d love to see her. Not to start over but to continue even taking the difficult, the hateful times along with the best stuff.
A friend is a friend, even if he did something you think is wrong, then moved far away and stayed out of touch for years. There is a certainty that if you contacted him at 3 a.m. saying you needed his help, he’d drop everything to come help you. And you’d do the same for him.
A friend is a friend for the long haul. We all grow and change. We may not all grow in the same direction, but friends we remain and we rejoice in what we share, even if the only thing we share is growth. I value every single friend of mine. Many I disagree with on many things, but I also agree with them on other things. I have friends who care greatly about something I’m ambivalent about, or know nothing about, but their interest piques by interest and I learn something new. I have some friends that I almost always agree with. But even my closest and dearest friend, my husband and I disagree on some things. Well…vive la différence!