A Lengthy Voyage
To have a friend and be a friend is what makes the journey so worthwhile…
I have a hard time when friends drift away. I don’t look to the horizon for my next new buddy, I prefer the trusty familiar ones, and would rather work through the difficult things and navigate life’s storms together.
Friendships that stay afloat through the ups and downs, distances, hardships and other changes over the years are typically the ones we call our best friends. The person who you share your deepest darkest secrets with, who you trust and can count on, no matter what.
Beyond the Shallows
Friendships grow naturally between two people who make an effort to spend time, conversation, shared activities, and have mutual care and respect for each other. The expectations of a friend are pretty straightforward—Respect, Trust, Shared Experience, Easy conversation, and Kindness.
There’s nothing quite like the moment when two like-minded souls meet, and I cherish those people in my life. A true friend loves their friend for who they are, for their character. It goes beyond the shallows of utility. The quality of your friendship is determined by the extent to which you can relax and be seen for who you truly are, and truly see the other. It’s not easy to do…to let down your guard and your precautions against being wounded.
Weathering the Storms
True friendship is weathering the storms with someone. At times they may struggle through the waves, and for a moment, you lose sight of them in the shades of blue, but the tides always bring you back together. Salt in their eyes, but appearing with a smile, they are forever happy to see you.
Through unpredictable waves and necessary course changes, it is to care—to love—in the face of difficulty, hurt, misunderstanding, and disappointment that is a true measure of the word, and perhaps the most difficult of tasks. To stay in, to keep things afloat over a lifetime.
All storms eventually come to pass, and although we can’t will them away, we can surrender to the assurance that blue skies will return.
Give Each Other Slack
Friends are accepting of the weird and stupid things we’ve done. They don’t criticize our weaknesses and different opinions. They give one other slack, they let unintentional letdowns or misdirected frustrations roll off. They understand hurtful words can carry a heavy blow; and when they want to make a point or challenge you on a subject, they don’t take the wind out of your sails, aren’t insulting, or intentionally hurtful.
Warm, sustaining relationships involve conversations that carry genuine interest on both sides, opportunity and respect for both to express themselves—with a goal to come at truth, not to conquer the other person. Friends frame critiques in such a way that provoke thought and discussion, without personal attacks. They make amends and attempt to have patience during moments when we are our least lovable.
A Shared Journey
At times I believe it is better to go it alone. To not need to worry about rocking the boat, enduring the grief of losing someone, to not rely on anyone or risk getting hurt, or hurting another. It is easier to set my own course and be in control of my own journey.
But then, I consider what buoys us on our journey is the awareness that, however dark and cold the storm-tossed seas, however distant and desolate the shore might appear, we have a friend and fellow sailor nearby. To share a laugh and a sunrise, to exchange mutual support, to understand our particular difficulties, and who can sit with us in the doldrums chatting about the mysteries of the deep, or lie silently on their back beside us as we make shapes in the stars.
Staying afloat means repairing the broken things, enjoying the journey together, and caring for one another along the way. People change, interests change, ebbs and flows happen. Everyone needs a companion on their journey—whether they deserve it or not. Someone who will undertake the heroic effort of staying aboard, who will recognize the goodness beneath the difficult people we are at times; who accepts our dark sides, someone who can navigate our waves of emotions and moods, throw us a lifeline, and offer us reassurance and warmth.