The True Friend
Three thoughts on friendship
“Oh, the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one's deepest as well as one's most foolish thoughts come out simply. Oh, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person: Having neither to weigh thoughts or measure words, but just pour them out. Just as they are – chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” — Dinah Marie Craik (1826 – 1887)
There is a kind of friendship we all long for in this life: to have just one friend who listens to us without judging, who doesn’t rush in to give advice, but simply sits and waits to hear what we are saying — or not saying. We crave a friend who doesn’t always try to rescue us, who doesn’t have all the answers, but who asks the right questions, and cares.
I have been fortunate enough in my long life to have found another human being who is patient with my delusions, who is actually willing to journey with me along the twisting, untraveled backroads inside my head. My friend listens as I babble on and on, remembering aloud things that may never even have happened. She knows that if given enough time, the meaningful point I am trying to make, will rise to the top like cream in a milk bottle. She waits.
More important now, though, I ask myself, have I been a true friend – have I really paid attention? Have I been patient and receptive no matter how outrageous, foolish or lost my friend may seem? Have I shared in their fear and pain as well as in their joy? I like to think that I have. I hope that I have. But lately I am becoming more and more aware of an insistent, clamoring self-centeredness in me as I age, a troubling decline in empathy or altruism. I wonder if it is a common thing among the old, and I worry that it might be just me.
What is something you know about friendship?
In what way are you a good friend?
Has your idea of friendship changed over the years?
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