Friendship is a phenomenon that has been observed and studied for centuries. People have been enthralled with the emotions, and the act of being a ‘friend’. Countless poets, philosophers, kings, and everyday citizens have tried their hand at explaining away the thing that is friendship. Each with their with their own ideas, some similar among people, and some unique to themselves, but each hovers around the matter of friendship, trying to eat away at the mystery behind it. So what is friendship? What makes a friend a true and real friend?
Well, according to Aristotle in his, “Perfect Friendship”, the truest friendship is that of good people (a detail most writers seemed to agree on), in which we desire the other person’s company as it is good and pleasant to us. He says that it is for one’s own sake that they would make a friend, because when you care about someone, they care for you, and that is the true reason we make friends. For our own benefit.
That was the point I was kind of thrown off. It seems to me that your own benefit should not be reasoning behind making friends. If that was the motivation, I don’t think you’d be able to make friends, anyway. Friendship shouldn’t be based off of convenience, right? There is no depth or love in a convenient relationship.
So, as I was not quite sure what I thought of Aristotle’s theory, I read some Cicero. I read a section of his, “On Friendship”, and Cicero seemed to be quite sure that only amazingly similar people could make good friends. They had to have the same goals, dreams, beliefs, and interests to make a relationship work. Cicero says:
<blockquote> …It is stronger between citizen and citizen than between citizen and foreigner, between those who are related than between those who are not </blockquote>
And mentions that traits of true friends needed to be equal.
So I ran into another conundrum. I believe that to be friends you have to have some similarities, but too similar and you can’t really have a deep, caring relationship. You would have nothing to talk about, discuss, debate, because you had the same opinions. You need to have differences, strengths and weaknesses, so as to compliment and build each other up. I don’t think I could be friends with myself, I would drive myself crazy! There has got to be some diversity so you can keep learning, keep growing. And Cicero may not have meant it to that extreme level, but there really has got to be some variety to keep it interesting and fun.
So I went on to Michel De Montaigne’s, “Of Friendship”. This one, I really really liked. It seemed to represent deepest friendship, and he wrote it so elegantly and romantically:
<blockquote> Our hearts are bound to each other. In the friendship I speak of, our hearts and minds mingle and blend with each other so completely that they efface the seam that joined them, and cannot find it again. If you press me to tell you why I loved him, I feel that this cannot be expressed, except by answering: because it was he, and because it was I”. </blockquote>
He also mentioned that a true friend would share all his thoughts, dreams, and ideas with the other, without any reserve.
That is what I really want in a friendship. It seems so complete, never lonely and always safe. That being said, I can only think of one relationship that could ever be that complete and consuming, and I think you all know the one I am referring to. Completely becoming the other person, when I think about it, is quite a complicated feat, unless you are spending countless hours and days with this person. Even the best of friends can’t just drop everything to spend all their time with each other. That is a nice thought, but we live in the real world, we have lives we have to live.
So, alas, my search for a description of the perfect friendship is without conclusion. The most I can gather (mostly from personal experience rather than what I read, but a little of that, too) is this. A true friend is someone who you care about more than yourself. Someone you love to talk with, see, and hear the opinion of. Someone you love to make laugh, and who will go out of their way to make you laugh. Someone you can share your thoughts with and know they will give their honest opinion and you can trust that they will never tell a soul what you said. Someone who wants to do things with you, and someone you love to do things with. When your friend is happy, it makes you happy, when you are sad, your friend will take it upon them self to cheer you up, and vice versa. A true friend is better than asprin for a headache, better than hot-chocolate when it is cold out, and better even than chaos for awkward situations… or maybe they are the chaos for you in awkward situations. They want the best for you, and love you as much as you love them. It isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always fun. Somtimes you have to work for it, but ultimately you know it is worth it.
That is the best kind of earthly friendship I can seem to comprehend. And I think you are lucky indeed if you find many friends like this in your lifetime. I think I’ve been truly blessed in my friendships. All I can say is that I think we should keep learning and growing, so these friendships can be lasting and amazing. Gotta love that.