"Every man passes his life in the search after friendship."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Friendship is a strange thing. When you’re little, all that seems to matter is whether or not you can find someone to play with, who treats you nicely and is tolerant of your moods. Do they like to draw? To play hide and seek? To run through the woods on imaginary horses? Do they share their toys? Cool – that’s a friend.
As you get older, friendship seems to get a bit more cerebral. Can you share your innermost secrets with this person (giggling about that silly stuff only the two of you understand)? Do they seem to have the same opinion of the boy who sits in the 4th row in music class (is he cute or a nerd)? How about fashion – does it matter to them as much (or as little) as it does to you? Movies? Books? Music? Cool – then that’s a friend.
Once you hit early adulthood – say your 20s, these things still matter, but in a less comparative way…meaning, you’re less co-conspirators and more companion like. This person is someone to hang out with – go to sports games with, go shopping with, hang out on a Friday night and chat with. This too, is a friend.
In “full” adulthood, friendship is a fragile thing. New stressors come along to test the bonds, see how far they stretch….can you fit other people into your matrix, such as a spouse and/or kids? That doesn’t always work, depending on where each of you are. Some people go full into family mode – house/kids/soccer games – while others prefer to remain “just” a couple (or a single person) who like(s) to be active and get out a lot. If you go one direction while your friend is going another, this can strain your relationship – either actively (maybe jealousy over time spent with kids or without) or inactively (a general drifting apart due to time taken up by other matters and a lack of contact). So, the friendship doesn’t necessarily die, it just gets set aside…sometimes forgotten or just dormant waiting for a much later revival.
Then there’s the horrible struggle to MAKE NEW FRIENDS. Once you’re in your 30s-40s, just where in the heck do you meet new people? How do you ‘feel them out’ to find out if they’re friendship material? Especially if you (or they) are married? Commitments also “get in the way” (again: family, spouse, work situations, sports, etc.) – causing the natural bonding that happened when you were younger to not only take longer, but maybe just not even happen. Yes, maybe you are one of the lucky few who run into MANY people in similar situations as you (a bunch of soccer moms, or being part of a choir or team), which presents many opportunities for forming lasting friendships. But basically – usually - Life happens, so friendships don’t. Sad thought, huh?
So think of your friends today – treasure each one, thinking of the good times you’ve had and try to make sure you both have many good times ahead of you together. Because once they wander off into their own life, they are REALLY hard to “replace” or “recover.” And that makes life rather lonely.
"If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself alone. A man should keep his friendships in constant repair."
~ Samuel Johnson