WHAT IS A FRIEND?
Remember the old saying, “Make new friends but keep the old, some are silver but others are gold”? Somehow that is even more relevant in today’s fast paced and internet driven world. We are able to google or search on facebook and find people we knew years ago, re-connect with them and have them on our social media sites as friends – but are they true friends? What is a friend? One dictionary definition of the word “friend” is: “one joined to another in intimacy and affection.” If we are to take this definition and apply it to the many “friends” we have on facebook, twitter or instagram, what actually is the reality? Great to be able to tell all and sundry that you have so many hundreds or even thousands of social media friends, but to whom do you turn when you really need a friend?
During our school years we made friends, but did we keep in touch with many of them after moving on, either to university or college, or out into the big wide world of the working environment? In many cases it may have been the occasional one or two people with whom we managed to stay in touch over time. A friendship has to be a two way interaction otherwise it dies a death and this happens more often than not. Some people thrive on keeping relationships going, but without reciprocation it is often a futile exercise.
A friend of mine from many years ago who had terminal cancer once said to me that if you can count your true friends on one hand you are luckier than most people. I tend to believe that this is true. A real friend is someone with whom, despite the passing of the years, you are able to immediately carry on chatting to as though you last spoke to them yesterday. If you have even one person like this in your life it is a gift to be savoured and valued. I have such a friend and she is one of very few of my current acquaintances who knew my late father. The day he was killed at work when a malfunctioning transformer blew up and electrocuted him plus several other people working with him, it just happened to be this friend’s birthday. Needless to say, phoning her to chat on her special day every year always tends to include a rather sad side too. She has recently relocated to Perth, and there is the different time zone to consider when getting in touch with her, but I know that whenever we speak the years will just fade away and we will carry on our conversation as though no time at all has passed since our last chat.
I also have a very good Indian friend whom I met during time spent living in Italy many years ago. When meeting up with her and her husband after a long period of keeping in touch by mail and the occasional phone call (this information really does date the length of our friendship!) it was as though no time at all had elapsed since our last meeting. Once again it must be said that such friendships are rare and extremely valuable and deserve to be nurtured. Are you also fortunate enough to have this kind of friend? A busy life is fine, but it really is critical to squeeze in a quick phone call or a voice WhatsApp to keep those relationships going. There can be nothing more soul destroying than constantly procrastinating about making that call only to find that it is now too late, as the friend is no longer around.