We all have friends of one kind or another. Many of us have social media friends, some of whom we have never met. Are these people real friends or are they just people we know. I remember having childhood friends where we played together, did our homework together and went out together. There were no mobile phones or computers then so no social media. Some of these friendships have endured for many years. I also have many friends from when I belonged to groups and societies some of whom I still write to or send email to.
But what is friendship? I found a good definition on the internet which resonates with me. ‘ Friendship is a close association between two people marked by feelings of care, respect, admiration, concern, or even love. ‘ So how many of my ‘friends’ fit this definition? Some definitely do this while others are just names on a social media list.
For me a friend is some one with whom I can share things, outings, cups of tea, my deepest thoughts, my worries and they can share these things too as we support each other through the bad times and care for each other making sure all is well with each other.
So imagine having a meal with a friend one day and they get out their phone and start texting. How does that make you feel? Would you do the same or would you ask them to put their phone away? For me, friendship also includes respect and texting on your phone while out for a meal with a friend is not really acceptable. If it was an emergency that would be different. Also do you make plans to meet with a friend and then let them down as something better turned up for that day or you just didn’t feel like going? To me that also shows a lack of respect and respect is important.
Friends have to be cherished, especially the good friends. It’s like any relationship, you have to work at it to keep it strong and good. If you don’t then it will fall apart and both people lose out. Good friends are like a pot of gold, look after them and treat them right.
I don’t know what happened but all my writing just disappeared so I shall start again.
If you use social media then you may have hundreds or even thousands of friends but are these really friends? At one time you could organise your social media friends into groups so I had a craft group, a healing group and a group of close friends. I’m not sure you can do this nowadays. But what is friendship?
I like this definition I found; ‘Friendship for most people is a combination of affection, loyalty, love, respect, and trust. The general traits of a friendship include similar interests, mutual respect and an attachment to each other, and in order to experience friendship, you need to have true friends.’ This definition represents how I feel about friendship.
For me it is important to be able to have deep discussion with my friends, to share with them my thoughts and feelings, to cry with them and laugh with them. I want to help them to achieve their goals and of course this all works vice versa.
So what about the other ‘friends’? Some of these might be people I see regularly but do not have that deep connection with them, others are just acquaintances. A true friendship can last many years even if you don’t see each other very often. I have friends I meet occasionally sometimes after many years but our conversations carry on as if we had only seen each other the previous day.
So I am grateful for those true friends that I have, with whom I share my feelings and thoughts on a regular basis. They have supported me and still do, through times of stress and upheaval. I hope I do the same for them.
Earlier in the week I was thinking about this blog and found a really good word for the title. Now it escapes me and I have had to use the words ‘taking things for granted’. However I was looking at what we take for granted, here in the UK at least. Most of us take for granted that we may have a job, a house or other residence, enough food and enough clothes. We take for granted the electricity and gas that power our homes and we also take for granted the water we use. Some of course have other sources of power and some even have a well not piped water but we do have water.
So what else do we take for granted? We often take our relatives and friends for granted too. We expect them to be there for us when we need them and can get upset when they don’t help. We take our public services for granted. I know we pay for them but we get cross when they don’t work. We take for granted that our politicians will do the best for us even though we know they won’t but we seem unable to get them to change.
One of the main things we take for granted is our health. Although many of us have various kinds of health problems we expect them to be dealt with by doctors and hospitals, but don’t fight for the nurses to have better pay so they can do an even better job of looking after us. But the health problem hit hard this week. I have been having a lot of pain and swelling in my hands and wrists and am waiting to see a consultant. But I have been busy sorting out lots of paperwork from years past and this has not helped. I woke up the other morning unable to use my left hand at all and my right hand only a little. Have you ever tried to wash and dress yourself with the use of only one hand and the partial use of the other? It was quite difficult and it brought home to me just how much we use our hands and take them for granted. We use our hands to wash and dress ourselves, to clean our teeth, to prepare food and cook it and to do so many other things it is too long to list them.
So what do you take for granted in your life? How do you deal with things that go wrong unexpectedly with what you take for granted? I love to read your comments some of which give me other lines of thought and different ways of perception so thank you all for those comments and keep them coming.
Has social media changed our ideas of friendship I wonder? You can click on a button and be friends with someone you have possibly never met. So why do we do this? For me being friends with someone means that we have things in common, we share things and we respect each others opinions even if we disagree. We also trust each other and when things go wrong we are there for each other to support and help out.
But I feel that we have different types of friends, we have close friends, friends we share hobbies with or go out with, and friends that I would really call acquaintances, that is, those who we may meet on the street and exchange comments about the weather or whatever but not people we really know. But is friendship a two way relationship? Or does one friend do all the giving and the other one do all the taking? Is this friendship?
Do we have to work at friendship, trying to keep the relationship going when things get rough and we feel out of our depth? If you haven’t heard from a friend for some time, do you pick up the phone ad ring them or do you wait until it is too late to do something? Are you the friend who always phones or writes letters or sends messages? Or do you and your friend phone, message and text each other in equal measure?
How do you value your friendships? There is so much to discuss here that I am now leaving it up to you to think about it and send me your comments. Reading my words this morning I see I have asked rather a lot of questions. The person sitting on the bench in my photo is a sculpture!
Friendship and its varied meanings has been on my mind this week. There are so many different layers to a friendship. There is affection, sympathy and empathy, mutual understanding, enjoyment of each others company, trust, the ability to be oneself without fear of being judged and so on.
I find I have a very few close friends with whom I can share all the above characteristics but I also have friends who are more like acquaintances. I have ‘friends’ on sites such as Facebook who can and do offer support when needed even if it is only words of encouragement and virtual hugs. But these play their part too.
For me friendship is a two-way thing. I like to think that I can offer many of the things mentioned above, like support, understanding and empathy even though I cannot do practical things. When you get older friendship becomes more important especially if you cannot get out to meet people as you did when younger. Friendships should be valued and when a friendship wavers then things should be done to put it right. Like most things in life, you get out of a friendship what you put in. I am thankful for my friends.
Do you value your friends and what they offer you? And what do you offer them in return?
Friends come and go as we all know. Sometimes we find it hard to let people we call friends move out of our circle. I remember feeling like this many years ago when someone with whom I had spent a lot of time suddenly decided to stop meeting me. It was then that I realised that many people come into our lives for a purpose. We learn something from them and they learn something from us and then our ways part.
There is much pressure on us every day about the way we live. There are adverts which try to persuade us to buy certain things or to take certain holidays. As we grow older we change how we live and so do our friends and it is inevitable that there will come a parting of our ways as we all change in different ways.
Sometimes these friendships last for many years as we ‘grow’ together side by side but often these friendships only last for a year or two or even less. But however long it lasts each friendship brings something for us and something for the other person to learn, to experience or to talk about.
Over the last 20 years or so I know that I have changed greatly and hopefully for the better. My way of living has changed and definitely my way of thinking. This means that many of my friends and I have parted ways but this makes space for new friends to come in, those who perhaps think the same way as I do or those who encourage me to keep ‘growing’ spiritually.
How do you think about your friendships? Do your friends change quickly? Do you have some very old friends where you have known each other for many years? What have you learned from your friends and what have they learned from you?