Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I spend much of my time in stories.  I read other people's fiction or watch their stories acted out on tv or movies.  All stories have a beginning and an ending.  Last night, we finished Dame Penelope Lively's "How It All Started", a novel about how a mugging modified several people's lives.  As she drew the story to a close, the author wrote that stories have endings and endings are satisfying, but real life just rolls along.

My vision of friendship is much like real life - it just keeps unfolding.  I guess, like stories, friendships can be said to have a beginning, to begin when the friends meet, if I don't allow for the possibility that we knew each other in another universe or before we were born.  

C.S.Lewis lists four main human loves in "The Four Loves": affection, friendship, eros and agape (special term for God's love for humans, edited to "charity" in the Kindle version of the book).  When I try to think what I have been doing lately, I think of contacts with friends.  I don't think of cutting the grass or cooking some fish.  I think of faces, voices, discussions with family members (also friends) and friends more distantly related to me "by blood" than my daughter and granddaughters.  Events with friends are the markers of my life, the intersections that mark off its blocks.

From inside the friendship, the view is of exchanges: mostly words, written or spoken but with some physical gifts like books or food or mittens.  Actual visits, temporary re-location to another's house or favorite restaurant or seaside, seem like the larger denominations of friendships' currency.

Friendships can start up very quietly and in my experience usually do.  A glance, a common moment at a salad bar, a comment on an internet bulletin board.  The book "Thinking: Fast and Slow" by Kahneman mentions the effect of repetition.  Once enough exchanges have taken place, one feels that one is now in a friendship.  

I don't think friendships need to end, usually.  They just slowly fade away unless they get watered once in a while by some further exchange or contact.  As Facebook or reunions show, they can come to full life again after decades of dormancy, like some seeds that retain potential for centuries.  And of course, they can begin anew at any age.  Some friendships begin in kindergarten and last a lifetime and others may begin between two nursing home residents.

Here is a salute to friends and the greetings, emails, texts, visits, bottles of wine and blueberry pies that keep their business alive!

Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety

Popular Posts

Follow @olderkirby