” Ya gotta have friends.” So go the lyrics to Friends sung by the Divalicious Bette Midler. To my way of thinking, every day is one in which I celebrate friendship. According to the United Nations, July 30th is International Friendship Day. This peacemaking body proclaimed: “The International Day of Friendship is an initiative that follows on the proposal made by UNESCO and taken up by the UN General Assembly in 1997 (A/RES/52/13), which defined the Culture of Peace as a set of values, attitudes and behaviours that reject violence and endeavour to prevent conflicts by addressing their root causes with a view to solving problems.”
From the earliest I can recall, I had playmates, including my sister, cousins and kids in the neighborhood. I learned to play nicely on the playground, not throwing sand or clobbering anyone, sharing my toys and not running with scissors. All good guidance for having healthy grownup friendships, as well.
As I matured, I discovered that friendships became even more valuable. I say that my friends are my treasures; and for good reason. I remain in touch with several from as far back as elementary school and my bestie and I have been in each other’s lives since we were 14 and met on a bench at a swim meet. We laugh that we “swam on different teams together.” Although we have had varying life experience and have taken alternate paths, we mirror amazing things for each other.
I have met friends in all kinds of ways: at workshops, in school, at work, in a supermarket check out line, in yoga classes and recently at an outdoor music event. They have come into my life via social media and some I have met face to face as a result. I never know where they are going to show up. I set an intention each day to connect with amazing people and have extraordinary experiences and each day, I do.
What do I look for in friends? Common interests, someone who is there in support, a person who is in integrity and is trustworthy, someone I can count on to listen and offer guidance, affectionate in word and action, patient, open minded and open hearted, ready for fun, creative, loves to talk about ‘life the Universe and everything.’ When I consider that ‘list’, I am aware that if I want people in my life that meet those requests, then I need to embody those qualities as well. A good friend will also call me on it when I don’t.
What does friendship mean to you? How are you a good friend? How do you celebrate friendships? What happens when friendships shift or go awry? That is one of the most challenging questions. In the past year I have said goodbye, at least for the time being to someone who had been a close friend for nearly 10 years. There was no explosion, no words cast about in anger; just a gradual recognition for me that the dynamics were unhealthy and that in order for me to be true to myself and kind to my own heart, I needed to let go and trust that if we are meant to re-establish contact we will. If not, I bless what we shared and let go with love.
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