“For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill? Seek him always with hours to live.”
I think it was the word “kill” that made this quote from the 70’s stick in my mind when I first read it. The image is so graphic so final—not the kind of way I want to spend time with a friend. Anyway it got me thinking about real friendship.
What is real friendship?
My best girlfriends always know my heart. It is the time we spend together discussing shared issues or laughing that matter. My experience with dear friends is light and nourishing and happy. We may discuss or consider challenges or irritating things but the outcome is always nourishing to my heart, so that I am left with a grin on my face.
And my business friendships, do I nourish them? Or is my heart full of criticism or a better way to do things? It is hard to be with someone you know reasonably well and listen to endless comments about how things are not working for them or for others in their department. I believe it is hard because there is nothing you can do. This is their experience to either accept or change. It seems to be a self-centred state that is not aware of the aching barrenness of the content of their thoughts, the very resistance to life that this tearing down signifies. This indeed is killing.
It kills the atmosphere, the warmth, even the love or compassion I might muster to be with them. It is far from being the lush green refreshing drink that real friendship offers.
So what to do?
I find the image of a cheerleader helpful— without the pompoms— someone who is encouraging and supportive and being vocal about it. Of course we don’t all have to shout our encouragement but the ‘sidelines’ is usually the right place from which to offer this support.
- I try to bring my full presence to the situation, without any comments or judgment, even being a bit detached, but still loving. It’s not hard to be loving and have compassion for the predicaments our fellows find themselves in, because they are usually recognisable— “I know that!”
- I also offer words of encouragement, deliberately enhancing and highlighting the positive life-giving points in the chaos. I draw out the things that are working, the things that give hope and generate positive opportunities. I share my wisdom and insight, but not too much!
- I am supportive. I am there when they call. If at all possible, I make myself available. It is extraordinary how reassuring and important it is to know that there is someone who can be relied on.
The two lines that come before the quote I used at the top of the article are these:
“If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.”
So bring your little victories and successes to your friend. Share your enthusiasm for a movie, or a project. Tell them how you overcame your recent obstacle and feel stronger for it. Show them life is good when you look and listen and let it in.
That person is a friend, a precious straight-up, warm help-mate to go to in times of confusion or need, and in times of success and pleasure. Cherish them.
– Ruth Buckingham
RUTH BUCKINGHAM is a teacher of Primal Spirituality and travels internationally offering courses on spiritual awakening and transformation. Her practical approach encourages people to discover the truth of themselves.