There are many different kinds of friendship in the world. There are many thoughts, ideas and feelings about friendship, and what constitutes a good one. There are lots of cheesy books on the subject, bad movies, sickeningly sweet quotes, and hideous modern jargon like BFF bullshit.
But when you break it down, there are four predominant kinds of friendship in the world. There is the intellectual kind, when two people feed off the brain power of one another, and the friendship is marked by fascinating discussion, debate and like-minded thinking. There is the emotional kind, when two people connect through their emotional experiences, and it is marked by empathy and mutual identification. There is the social kind, when you just have a rip-roaring good time with one another, but you never really welcome that person into the deeper parts of your being. And there’s the soul kind, an inexplicable connection where people just ‘click’. It is possible to find many friends that fall into each category, and you may even find one that meets two criteria and subsequently think, ‘well that’s a stab of good luck’. But it is damn difficult to find another being who you befriend on all four levels. The ultimate friendship is one that has an intellectual, emotional, social and soul connection. Maybe most people don’t even look at it that way; indeed people seem to have very fixed ideas about what constitutes a friend. Some people say, ‘Ahh a friend is someone who thinks in a similar fashion to you’, or ‘a friend is someone who’s shoulder you can cry on’, or ‘friends are to have fun with’. And then of course there are the greedy people who say, ‘Bah, a friend is someone you can do ALL of those things with and MORE!’
I am one such greedy person. As such I have never seen the point of acquaintances – they take up time and energy which is best spent elsewhere. I have been lucky to have found true friendship in a handful of people. And that kind of relationship is rare and precious. This is what it is …
True friendship is brain food, for it enriches and inspires you as you hungrily devour it.
True friendship is a soft blanket to wrap yourself in when it is dark, a fetching cushion to fall on when you are breaking.
It is the place to admit, ‘I am human and I am fallible’, and to ask the question, ‘Will you love me regardless?’
True friendship answers yes, and actually means it.
True friendship advises, it counsels, it soothes, it comforts, it nurtures and it keeps you on the path to uncovering who you are. It allows you to feel it all, to rise up with glory and to shatter in fragments, with the tender and permanent reassurance, ‘I am here’.
It helps you find your truth and deliver it to the world.
It loves you when others do not and it embraces you when life has kicked you onto a desolate street of uncertainty, heartache or abandonment.
True friendship says, ‘You have a permanent place in my heart. You are welcome in my home and in my life for the duration of your time on this earth’.
It is a sanctuary. It is a place to go deep into yourself and your existence, and a place to forget your sorrows in a good bottle of wine, or a bad one come to think of it.
It is a place to be whatever you want to be.
But like anything really good, it is sometimes hard work. True friendship does not always come easy.
There are times when it is hard to be that friend; like when you witness your friend lying in a state of self-indulgent despair, lamenting the audacity of their continued existence; or when you have to watch your friend slowly die of depression in a relationship that they refuse get out of.
The darkness certainly comes in true friendships because you know absolutely every aspect and face of that person. You are the safe person; the one they can reveal all to, even the hideous, demented demons that feed upon their soul from time to time.
It is your job to take it, just as you take all the joy and wonder.
It is conditional, but it has the potential to outlive one or all of your romantic relationships.
True friendship has a story. It has a legacy that grows and develops and is boundless.
Without a doubt true friendship is one of the most fucking spectacular things in the world.
Photograph from cn.petsmao.com