Saturday, 4 February 2012
How can one accurately describe the abstract concept that is friendship? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as 'The quality or state of being friendly' or 'the relationship between two friends'. These definitions are pretty primitive. They don't explain the little intricacies and conditions that make up a good friendship. I don't expect them to, but at the same time, I wouldn't expect someone who wants to know what true friendship is to check for a dictionary definition. You don't need one. You know what friendship is when you have a true friendship.
Friends are people who you enjoy spending time with. I've got hundreds of acquaintances but very few I would regard as friends. This is because I don't want to spend that much time with all of them. That's not to say I don't like them, it's just that their company isn't something I long for. Their company can be quite awkward and cordial. I don't miss them when they're away. When you have a proper, lasting friendship with someone, you do miss them. You miss their funny little ways and their annoying habits. You miss the arguments and you miss the DMCs (Deep Meaningful Conversations to the uninitiated of you). Their presence is enough to warm you. A wise man or woman once said 'True friendship is when silence between two people is comfortable'. What a sagacious little quote. Some times friends need say nothing, they just need to be there.
Friendship of course, is not merely a same-sex matter. Society is keen to show us, from an early age, that we should focus on fraternising with people of our own sex. Be it the existence of same-sex schools or even clubs and organisations like boy-scouts or girl guides, there is an almost continuous attempt to divide children on the grounds of their gender. Friendship between a man and a woman is a very viable and beneficial relationship nevertheless. It's only when you reach adolescence that you begin to realise this. I attended a mixed primary school and a mixed secondary school so in that sense, I am lucky that I have no trouble fitting in in female dominated environments and forming lasting friendships with members of the fairer sex. Others are not so lucky and you can't really blame them, boys who attend all-boys schools for 14 years might not know how to converse with a woman in meaningful way, in a way that is not a precursor to him sleeping with her. Friendship with a female can be just as rewarding and as enjoyable as friendship with a male. They know us better than we know ourselves, they love chatting and the best ones can put up with a little bit of gentle insulting, colloquially referred to as 'banter'. They are also very useful when you have your own little relationship problems as they are well-versed in the art of providing a shoulder to cry on. Friendship between men and women is something that any equal society would want to propagate.
In a world which increasingly emphasises the supposed importance of material wealth and social status, maintaining good and eternal friendships is often seen as secondary to progressing in your career. But no one can survive without friends, be they male or female. Friendship is basically the family that we choose. It is the glue that holds together our emotions and our mental well-being.