What defining quality do you look for in a friend?
Really interesting question.
I have been thinking back over some of the friendships in my life.
Some few have been long lived.
Some have been deep and short in time.
There was George, whom I met in primary school (aged 9), who was perhaps my first true friend. We shared many interests at the time, and we gradually grew apart, as our understandings and interests grew apart. We haven’t seen each other in almost 20 years, and that is mostly because I moved 300 miles away.
There is Jim whom I met at about age 12, whom Ailsa and I stayed with last year. We stay in touch irregularly. We have a lot of shared history, and overlap of interests, and also some wide divergence.
There is Chris, whom I met at age 18, whom I contact about once a year now. Our lives have gone in very different directions in many aspects, and we still share a lot of history, and a deep love and respect. Ed and I were close for a time, and have drifted apart.
There are many others, Ailsa, Rex, Rob, Caspar, Bill, Scott, John, Grant, Alistair, you, Sandi and many more whom I know would be there if I asked them, and I rarely ask. My dad was perhaps my best friend, we worked together daily for 20 years.
I don’t have anyone who just comes around for a chat on any sort of regular basis – that sort of friendship has never been part of my life.
And some of the friendships have been quite short, and very meaningful for that short time – like Johnny (a fitter for the firm Northern Maintenance whom I met in 1975) who I knew for just a couple of months, and worked with him every day for that couple of months. We man hugged when the job was over – I shed tears of friendship and loss. Our intellectual interests were vastly different, and there was a respect and love present in the relationship that I will never forget.
It seems to me that rather than me looking for anything in friendships, friendships just sort of find me. The overlaps happen when they do.
I don’t set out ahead of time with any sort of list of qualities that I am looking for, and sometimes there are enough things present that there is a connection, a respect, a love, a set of shared interests.
And there are a few common qualities that seem to show up consistently:
I have no idea what “true friendship” is.
I do know what I appreciate.
So thank you for being my friend.
Thank you for showing up.
Thank you for being here.