A blog about our shared experience…

Family-ship

Originally posted at Nineteen Months:

“If love and agreement are manifest in a single family, that family will advance, become illumined and spiritual; but if enmity and hatred exist within it destruction and dispersion are inevitable…”

It is entirely natural that we human creatures feel the urge, need and desire to connect to each other. From our earliest moments as a species, that feeling had been a necessary part of survival. We have had those other humans that we were born into, and then those that we grew and developed around…all essential to our learning about our special experience in this universe. We have moved through stages of feeling tied to the safeguarding and protection of the family unit, to the tribe, to the state, to the nation and most recently to the level of the world. Many of us may still have doubts and concerns about that last part, because we are still maturing into that stage, and all of us have not been entirely good at playing nice in this global sandbox…all too often it looks like the children’s game “King of the Hill”, but I have no doubts that we’ll get there…

“…This is likewise true of a city. If those who dwell within it manifest a spirit of accord and fellowship it will progress steadily and human conditions become brighter whereas through enmity and strife it will be degraded and its inhabitants scattered. In the same way the people of a nation develop and advance toward civilization and enlightenment through love and accord, and are disintegrated by war and strife…”

Like so many of us who have been thrust into “adulthood”, not really knowing for sure what that means and requires of us, being at the level of …read the rest of this article

7 responses

  1. Willowwhispers

    It seems the older I get the more I expect from friends, however not in a bad way. I have found myself weeding out some not so “healthy” friends. Healthy in the sense that they are not healthy for me. Not to long ago I had a “friend” that I thought was a pretty good gal. She had her issues for sure, but then again, don’t we all? And isn’t it our friends that help us through those issues and help us remold ourselves?

    However in this particular case I was betrayed, in a most hurtful way. I debated and wrestled with myself for several days as to how to deal with this situation. I did not want to be too hasty.

    Was this friendship worthy of “working it out”? I thought of several good ways to deal with this; I put a good share of time into this question. Much left-brained and right-brained thought went into it. As I pressed on towards the goal of resolution it became very clear to me that; “ya gotta know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em”. This one I chose to fold, and have no regrets

    Friendships take work, like all relationships. Like a garden they have to be planted, watered have a good share of sunshine, weeding and a lot of cultivating. I have so many great friends, several that I have been close with for 20, 40, 35 years. We have cultivated all of these relationships. We have had ups and downs, disappointments, disagreements and all the other stuff that comes with that many years. However, we, each of us, chose to fix it. We were willing to do the hard work it takes to fix the situation and move forward, to keep the friendship alive and healthy. And it has worked… that’s why we are still friends. Mind you I am talking close friends, not casual, catch up with each other once in awhile friends. Close.

    I have found a few choice words that describe a friend to me. Past all the “fun and easy” attributes of friendship lies this for me.
    Loyalty – no matter what.
    Integrity of self and our relationship.
    And responsibility… first to yourself (the friend) and then to me.

    I have also found it takes time to decide if someone is worthy of friendship. I find myself holding back a bit, not being an open book so quickly. I think, like with any relationship, it takes at least a year to know if you really want this person in your life. Going through the seasons, holidays, ups and downs, and everyday problems with them will tell you a lot about them and the attributes I mentioned above. How do they handle their own stuff, how do they handle your stuff? How do they deal with their other friends? Do they have other friends?

    I don’t take my friendships lightly. I was raised as an only child, my friends have always been very important to me. Mind you, I have not always done things right, I have done things that betrayed my own self-worth, my own integrity, my own loyalty, which in the end hurt my friends. I still feel the pains of quilt because of it. (Guilt seems to be my own private, personal cross to endure in this lifetime). But I have learned to give what I expect, and I do the best I can to do that.
    It’s important for me to bring a quality level of love, happiness, laughter, joy, integrity, responsibility and peace to my friends. I try to do that, and they do too. New friends will become old friends in time, or not. I know it’s a two-way street that both of us must choose to walk. With some we walk that journey together, others split off and go another route. And that’s ok. I find it falls into that “reason, season or lifetime” thing. I am blessed by every friend I have ever had, no matter how long we shared our lives. And I am good with that. Without my friends, new and old, I believe at least a part of my spirit may surely die… for it is with them, through them and because of them that I find fulfillment, laughter, joy and promise of goodness.

    (Gotta share this in my own blog Oak, I hope that’s ok with you and WordPress. Still not sure of the proper etiquette 🙂 )

    March 4, 2012 at 4:12 pm

  2. Feel free to share this, Willow! I’ll be thinking on your thoughtful comment for a bit before I respond…thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    March 4, 2012 at 4:26 pm

  3. emily

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts! Friendship is a brilliant thing to reflect on.

    The passages you quote and my own experiences cause me to think about friendship as centered on love. In this way, in my experience, there isn’t a well-defined group of people I consider my friends, with a set of people who *aren’t* my friends that lie just beyond that boundary. Instead, there are a whole range of friendships that surround me. And I give and receive different things in each of them. But from my oldest childhood friends who live on the other side of the planet, to the colleagues I just recently started working with, to those treasured friends I turn to first for shared reflection, to the land lady I only speak with on occasion, to those radiant individuals with whom I randomly seem to cross paths from time to time—these are my friends. I know because I am always happy to see them. I know because their joy brings me joy. I know because our conversations enrich and uplift, and sometimes when language is a barrier, it’s the smiles themselves that bring joy. I know because I love them.

    And that perspective on friendship frees me. With it, I can travel half way around the world to Zambia, and find physical, emotional and spiritual sunshine whenever I step out the door (okay, sometimes there is physical rain, though), even though most of my loved ones are scattered across the globe. With it, I can be unshaken by the fact that I haven’t seen some of my most cherished friends in years, and many others I have no idea when our paths will cross.

    I have found, as Willow points out, that sometimes we have to let friendships fade. In my experience, it doesn’t mean that the love is gone. I specifically don’t let the love go. But I sometimes find that frequent contact with some people no longer feels like a good idea, when I don’t feel like I am able to offer anything useful to them, and their ways of thinking and being are pushing me in directions that I no longer want to travel in. Just this morning I read a passage that said:

    “…Man must always associate with those from whom he can get light, or be with those to whom he can give light. He must either receive or give instructions. Otherwise, being with people without these two intentions, he is spending his time for nothing, and, by so doing, he is neither gaining nor causing others to gain.”

    I have found this to be an important approach to friendships for me. So many people along the way have been sources of joy and objects of my love. But I always tend to hover closest to those from whom I can get or to whom I can give light (or both!). Thankfully, there seem to be an endless supply of these in each new locality.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    • I really dig that, Emily! Thanks for sharing…some valuable points to consider…

      April 4, 2012 at 6:29 pm

  4. Glenn

    This subject has ebbed and flowed to my front and back burners over the years. Although many would describe me as a social butterfly, this is only partly true. When I am in a crowd, I try to connect with everyone in the crowd. But when it comes to “friend” — whether in a diary or an address book or a Google circle, very few people get so categorized. Most folks fall into categories that explain the connection I have with them on the basis of a shared external community I happen to belong to: high school, college, fraternity, employer, or faith. But every now and then, I encounter someone (usually through one of those aforementioned circles) that I find myself drawn to for more than simply our shared circle.

    These people are few. I find myself called friend by more people than I call friend. I can still count on one hand the number of people that I can call “best friend” and on two hands the number of people I truly call “friend” (including those that are “best”).

    I take the word seriously. But I can’t truly define it in a manner that would satisfy a dictionary. It places them into a circle close to family — but not identical. I can “not like” my family, but love them nonetheless. With friends, the “not like” doesn’t come so readily. And when it does, things change. But of those on my “best friend” hand, that change has not happened in 24 years (when I first recognized that I had such a distinction).

    I have joked that there are many people I would die for, but a friend is someone I would kill for. And I guess that is as close as I can come to a definition.

    March 6, 2012 at 9:25 pm

  5. Hobbs

    Sorry to be late to the game on this one. I’ve been meaning to chime in for some time, but I suppose the thoughts that the post encourages needed some time to percolate. I do appreciate the opportunity to stop and think about this vital and important question, what is friendship? Well to begin with I just want to say that I agree with everything that has already been said. If nothing else, friendship, as a social construct, is certainly open to evolution. Quite honestly, it’s hard for me to define the word, mainly I think, because I approach the concept from a couple of different perspectives. One is through a mostly unconscious process that involves engaging with individuals, learning from each other, and developing a mutual attraction and motivation to engage further, which may go on to evolve in an infinite number of paths. The other is related to my spiritual conviction that I should strive to be a friend to all, and that to actually sincerely attempt to strive for that ideal is to see all relationships as friendships. So this is my dilemma. If we define a friendship as something that meets a certain criteria that can be measured in terms of things such as common interests, time spent together, shared experiences, etc. then we must realize that the ideal of being a true friend to all is an impossibility. So I think a question that feels most appropriate to me, is the question of what does it mean to be a friend? My answer to that is to genuinely feel towards another person a degree of love that I would willingly sacrifice my own happiness for his or her well-being (spiritual and/or material). So I guess that’s the main thing that I strive for in friendship. But striving is one thing, and where I’m at is another.

    When I think about it, I can’t say that I look for particular qualities in choosing those that I spend time with. In fact, I would go as far as to say that, for my part, it’s not a conscious choice. I am aware that many are deliberate in choosing people they wish to draw closer too, and I don’t see that as an invalid way to engage with others. It’s just not something I do. I’m certainly not opposed to the idea. It just doesn’t come natural.

    For defining characteristics of successful friendships, the first things that come to mind involve the concept of truthfulness, which carries into and enhances a host of other attributes, such as sincerity , trustworthiness, selflessness, just to name a few. If a relationship begins to manifest signs that truthfulness is lacking, then it becomes very difficult to engage in a genuine way.

    I also think it’s important to establish that there is only one kind of love, and it is unconditional. Sometimes we use “unconditional” as describing a particular brand of love. But the way I understand it, there is no other brand. If love is conditioned on what one side or the other gets from a relationship, then it isn’t love at all.

    I do believe individual approaches to the concept of friendship are largely shaped by one’s family experience. For example, I for one come from a family experience where love was always manifest. In other words, there never were conditions on it. Even if my decisions and actions were contrary to the wishes of my family. If such were the case I may have received careful advice, but always an assurance of loving support.
    But I expect, if things were different and I did not benefit from such a supportive environment in my childhood and formative years, I would likely seek that from my friendships.

    But as is the case, what I crave mostly from friends is not necessarily loving support, but honesty and frankness when I need it. My family can offer that too, but due to the limitations of individual experience (and perhaps the parental rose-colored glasses syndrome), I feel like I need that type of interaction with those outside the circle of my immediate family. For the vital need of seeing those aspects of myself that I and my immediate family are too familiar with to recognize, I rely on friends.

    March 27, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    • Well put. I agree that the only kind of love that truly existsis unconditional, but I feel the need to specify because not everyone has experienced love as they know it that way. Hopefully that appears less and less throughout the human experience, and we have better models as you did of that love.

      April 4, 2012 at 6:37 pm

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