I’m not the first to ever write about finding friends. And I won’t be the last. I looked at Goodreads quotes about friends, and they number 1071. I felt like the most noble of researchers just continuing to read past page one. Yes, folks, in your honor I actually read page 2! Whew, that’s 60 quotes. Here’s one gem from page 2:
I don’t suppose you have many friends. Neither do I. I don’t trust people who say they have a lot of friends. It’s a sure sign that they don’t really know anyone. — Carlos Ruiz Zafón
I know people who have facebook friends in the thousands. I also know that those people probably don’t hang out with all of those people every day. After all if you have about a 1000 friends, with 365 days in the year, even if you saw one friend a night, that would be almost 3 years before you managed to fit them in again for a second get-together. Of course, you could see them in big groups, but how much can you actually talk to someone in a big group? And is that friendship?
alone in a crowd
everyone else seems happy
what is wrong with me
A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away. — Unknown
Okay, now that is some standard to live up to. Do any of us ever pour out all the contents of our hearts? I don’t. Not all in one go. If I did, I’m sure to never see the other person again. No one wants quite so much sharing all at once, it’s an emotional storm of neediness to overshare like that. It takes literally years to get to know someone well enough that you can pour out your heart. Even then, you only pour out the relevant crisis or whatever the current issue is, not about everything that may ever have happened to you since the beginning of time. A good friend can take that small outpouring, and they understand it in the context of having gotten to know you over the years, if you’re lucky. And yes, a good friend will ignore the chaff, and keep the grain.
You can make more friends in two months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. — Dale Carnegie
Here’s the kicker. You might be looking for a friend for your own needs, but so is everybody else. To really gain a friend, you have to care about them back. You can’t pour out your heart every time. You have to shut up and listen well. In fact, it’s better if you listen more than you pour out your own heart. For a talker like me, that can be hard. But setting aside my own issues is its own reward. It gives me a break from obsessing about my stuff, and listening lets me put my stuff into perspective: I’m not the only one with issues, am I? And it’s the path to actual connection, more than just acquaintance, but real friendship.
be that friend others want
learn to listen with support and love
friendship will be yours
The proper office of a friend is to side with you when you are wrong. Nearly anybody will side with you when you are right. — Mark Twain
Now, I don’t know if Mark Twain had friends who would side with him when he was wrong. He was such a good talker, probably most people just agreed with whatever crazy thing he said. Like this one. Do I want my friends to let me do whatever bone-headed thing I want with no use of judgment on their part? In my case, no. God knows, my friends have to set me straight on issues sometimes, and I value their disagreement because it makes me really think things through. Friends can be counted on to keep you out of deep water by telling you when you are being bone-headed. I hate to disagree with Mark Twain, but clearly he needed to be disagreed with at times.
Why did I bother to collect all these quotes and share them? Why did I read to page 2 looking for the good stuff? Because making friends is one of the most important things you can ever do in your life. Real friends, not just people you see at a party, say hello to and then move on. People who actually stop and listen to you because you are the person they wanted to see. People who don’t just listen politely, and then cut you dead the next time you see them because they were secretly bored and are afraid you’ll really talk to them again. Friends think about what you’ve said, don’t judge, and then share in return so you don’t feel alone anymore. Friends call you up because they miss you or wonder how you are (not your mom).
when I was weary
you laid your cheek along mine
your warmth was my sun
Copyright 2014 Brenda Davis Harsham
Note: Photo used with kind permission of, and post inspired by, the brand spanking new Haibun Thinking Writing Challenge’s photo prompt, Week 1. Any blogger can join in, please give it a whirl if you like reading these prose and poetry feasts of the senses. Follow the link if you feel like throwing a hat in the ring.