Monday, May 4, 2015

Thoughts on Friendship


FRIENDSHIP is a mirror to presence and a testament to forgiveness. Friendship not only helps us see ourselves through another's eyes, but can be sustained over the years only with someone who has repeatedly forgiven us for our trespasses as we must find it in ourselves to forgive them in turn. A friend knows our difficulties and shadows and remains in sight, a companion to our vulnerabilities more than our triumphs, when we are under the strange illusion we do not need them. An undercurrent of real friendship is a blessing exactly because its elemental form is rediscovered again and again through understanding and mercy. All friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness. Without tolerance and mercy all friendships die.


I read this quote yesterday. It is an excerpt from a book called Consolations, The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words, by David Whyte. I immediately added this book to my wish list. As a woman without sisters, my girlfriends have been and always will be my "go to gals" for just about any and every step in my journey through this life, whether it be a bump in the road, a pinnacle reached or just the simple meanderings along the way that require some feedback or witnessing. 

Leaving them all behind to move to the other side of the world was only made possible by technology. Without the ability to Skype or text or email, it would have made my choice so much more difficult than it already was. What really struck me about the excerpt by David Whyte was that last sentence. 

Without tolerance and mercy all friendships die.

I started to think about friendships of mine that had died over the years, versus ones that took a pause or dwindled due to distance or life changes. The friendships that pause are inevitably part of life but always remain hovering in the background. You know that all it would take is a phone call or an email to reconnect and you would catch up and despite whatever reason stands in the way of an ongoing connection, you are always there for each other. You have "tolerated" the reasons and understood why you drifted apart, yet never question the friendship.

The friendships that actually had to literally die really were due to intolerance. We have surely all experienced this. The friend who has not evolved. The friend you realized one day was racist. The friend who took advantage of you. The friend that lied to you...more than once. The day came when you could no longer tolerate their actions and it either died a slow death, or ended with a fatal blow; words that could not be taken back. Their actions were such that you were unable to show mercy. 

Put in such a way, it has given me a new perspective on two friendships that I ended over the years. I have always known that it was necessary, however it still left me with dangling threads. Threads of shared history. Threads of doubt. Was I too harsh? Was there any hope for the relationships? Could I have been more tolerant? Could I have been merciful? Or, as it stands, did I close the seam between us for the good of all concerned?

Friendships, like marriages take effort on both sides as we all know. I value my friends. I think they know I do. Just as I valued the friendships I ended for many years prior to their demise. I was witness to large chunks of their lives, as they were to  mine. The friends whose lives I witness now and who witness mine remain steady and sure with mutual give and take and ebb and flow and I guess I just want to say to all of them - thank you. 

Thank you all for your tolerance, your mercy and for everything you give me. 

Witnesses...each and everyone of us. 

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