The value of friendship is often measured in the miles of smiles traveled over the years. As social creatures, humans need the connection of kindred spirits for everything from celebrating life’s little victories to consoling each other when the odds decree otherwise. While society seems to view companionship based on the wedded union, the depth and breadth of one’s friends more often make the difference in one’s quality of life.
I grew up in a military family, a lifestyle blessed with the positives of family closeness, adaptability, and a gift for efficient packing and moving that is particularly without rival. But the downside of my nomadic upbringing is the absence of life-long friends. When military orders transfer your family every few years, it’s impossible to develop deep-rooted friendships with anyone outside the immediate family. There were good times with memories of exotic locations and a fine tuning of life on the move, especially useful should I become a nomadic vagabond someday.
Friendship is a fickle master that seems simple in form, but is devilishly delicate in execution. Through several long relationships I’ve noticed a sad process that always seems to happen when friendships are tied to the couple instead of individuals. After the breakup, you not only split dishes but your friends as well. It’s no surprise this polarizing occurs, since friends are frequently pressed to choose sides. Other events in life such as going off to college, career changes, transfers to new locations, or changes in the social status of friends as they become married or single again, all cause significant ripples in one’s base of friends.
If I had stayed connected with all the good friends I’ve made through the years I’d be rich beyond what any lottery could provide. Now I find myself once again in the after shadow of a long-term relationship and realizing the importance of the legacy of friendship. I’ve taken inventory of those I’ve grown close to at times over the years and have decided to see what I could do to rekindle those connections and overcome whatever reason I let come between us.
In our relationships each of us ultimately has to be responsible for the success or failure of that relationship. When you accept this level of responsibility, you realize it means going the extra mile to reach out to a long-lost friend, or putting pride and ego aside to step forward with hand held out and a heart-felt apology to mend broken fences lest they stay unrepaired the rest of your life. Which is more important: your pride or that once-special friendship? To my thinking, the better path is one that builds, maintains, or recovers friends. You’re born into a family without choice; you choose your lover or mate for intimacy; but you earn your friends. And as with anything worth working for and keeping sacred, it’s a life-long commitment to do whatever it takes to make and keep friends in your life.
This is a slightly edited reprint of the post I wrote as a guest blogger on Thinking Out Loud.