Repairing friends.

Posted by Hello
Why don't we call it that?

When we meet someone new, it is said that we have made friends with someone. An interesting turn of phrase, implying the creation of one relationship and two new people, two friends out of what were previously acquaintances. Or we say we made a friend.

"What did you do today?" "Oh, I made a new friend!"

Posted by Hello
It is almost as if we are saying we can create a new person out of someone who was previously something less than complete because they were not yet our friend. It's an odd expression, but that's English for you.

How are friendships created?

I was once asked to explain the difference between an acquaintance (how I class 95% of the people I speak with, day-in and day-out) and a friend. Stumbling for an expression and grasping at straws I finally stammered out "A friend is someone for whom you are willing to make sacrifices."

Posted by Hello
It doesn't summarize exactly the feeling of friendship, but it draws a thin but perceptible line between someone you know, and someone you care about. For an acquaintance you might be happy to see them, tell a joke and share a laugh. But for a friendship you will give up luxuries, swallow your pride, or pull the strings at your command to make their lives better. A friendship is something important, something valuable.

Posted by Hello
It is about coming to a place where you realize that you don't want to go through life completely alone, and you're willing to give up little things for the big picture. And the big picture means a web of relationships, some of which are merely informational, and some of which involve giving up important things. For a romantic friendship it might mean passing up a job out of town for something less prestigious but closer to the one you love. For a partner-in-crime it might mean surrendering yourself to see that someone else escapes punishment. For an old friend whom you've offended, it might mean something as simple as swallowing your pride, extending your hand and saying "I'm sorry about what happened. How are you?" These manifestations of friendship might be the noblest of all human gestures, and they certainly could be the most rewarding.

We say that we are repairing a friendship when one becomes damaged by misunderstanding, insult, innuendo, or enmity. We are, in a sense, repairing friends. Recreating a functional two-person relationship from the wreckage our missteps have caused.

I think that there is a time to make new friends and cut old ties. But there is a more noble time, which is when we make sacrifices to keep old friendships alive.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


Post a Comment

<< Home