Monday, 29 November 2010
The first draw I did from this deck revealed this image. Friendship is something I've been thinking about quite a bit of late. For one thing, my Dear One's fortieth is coming up, and thinking of an invite list made us stop and consider the friendships we've developed, kept or lost over the years. For another, having moved country several times I notice differences in the speed of getting to know people in different contexts, and the kinds of friendships I've created at various times in my life. Then there's the fact of internet connections and communities of various kinds, be it Twitter, Facebook, forums, blogs, or just plain old email.
Generally, friends I have made more recently match my current interests better than older friends (except for my oldest friend, with whom I still share many common interests). However, with newer friends the level of trust isn't always the same as with people who I have known through thick and thin.
I guess most of this seems commonsensical. Still, it's interesting to ponder the nature of friendship. How do we form relationships with people? Is it like falling in love, that sometimes you just click and it's as though you've known one another forever? What does it take to build a friendship? And what, for instance, of internet friends? Does it make a difference if you have met them IRL too?
Even when you read someone's blog, or their posts on a forum, it's often the case that the subject matter is limited, the context narrow. So, you only get to know a few aspects of that person. Meeting in real life there is the possibility for much wider contexts to be drawn in, through happenstance, other people, different activities. On the other hand, some people only meet in very specific circumstances, so their friendship even in the flesh is still restricted.
There have been notable cases of the unrealistic nature of internet relationships, be it romances or Facebook friends. But isn't this partly the nature of the media - we are more often made aware of where and when things go wrong, rather than the myriad ways in which they go right and enrich our lives. I feel a lot of care and affection, as well as interest and stimulation, with respect to my internet friends. We communicate because we have common interests, and do so quite regularly, but each when it suits us. Does this make these relationships more or less selfish or real?
Another aspect of meeting people face to face is the fact that appearance then makes more of a difference to how we assess the person. I notice that among my old school friends I am the least heavy, while among my friends made in Spain I am the heaviest. The friends I am making now are more mixed. Does this say anything about me, about them? Does it matter at all? What about if all your friends are constantly on diets? Or if they're all slim and don't seem to have to work at it? How do these things make you feel about them, and about yourself?
You see, friendships are important not just because they connect us with others, but also because they help us to define ourselves, to get to know ourselves as much as we are getting to know the other. We create ourselves every day in what we do and say and think, and we do this through our relationships with other people. So, who we choose as friends affects who we are as people and how we feel about ourselves.
And what of bad friendships, like the earthen jars of the quote? Do you stay in touch, just because you always have? Or allow yourselves to drift apart, thinking of them sometimes with a touch of nostalgia? Are there any with whom you've made a definitive break? If so, what prompted you to do it?
I broke with one friend because it felt like the relationship was one-sided, and I felt drained when I was with her. I started to dread her phone calls, and began screening all calls. I realised if I felt that anxious about having to speak with her, there was something really off with the friendship. I've wondered occasionally if I should have tried to talk to her about it. However, part of our relationship was that we'd have these long conversations - mainly about her problems - which seemed to come to some kind of resolution, then she'd go and do exactly what she'd done before. So, it felt a bit pointless. After all, it was always just talk and never made a difference!
How do you feel about your friends, both internet-based and other? How do you make friends, and do you ever break with friends? And what makes a good friend?
Images from Dharma Deck, published by Mandala.