There is much that can change in the friendship landscape for an eighth-grader over the ten week summer break from school. The departure of a few old friends and the arrival of new students tests the resilience of the cliques and leads to a re-examination of the questions: who are my ‘real’ friends? what is the difference between being ‘friendly’ and being a ‘friend’? what makes some so ‘popular’ that everyone wants to be ‘friends’ with them? How did some of my ‘friends’ change so much over the summer?
Yes. School has been in session for less than a week and some of these questions have led to conversations in my home. Over the past few days, it has caused me to pause and ask some questions about the nature of friendship in general, and reflect on my own ‘good’ friends from the past few the decades.
The Indian sage Patanjali (author of the Yoga Sutras) penned an aphorism which offered advice on ‘friendship’. When asked, whom should we consider for friendship, he simply said — “be friendly towards those who are friendly towards you”. Sounds like a simple attitude to practice, right? However, it is often our prejudices, our past hurts and skepticism towards new connections that can stop us from adopting this attitude. My personal experience has been that “being friendly towards the friendly” has seeded many acorns of friendship for me, some of which have grown into big oaks.
The shade and shelter of these oaks has helped me weather many a storm and even healed me of my many of my hurts and sorrows. It is not to say that a vast majority of those ‘friendly acorns’ never grew to become strong, healing oaks. Some fell on hard rocks, some took root but only grew for a season or two, and some did become healthy trees that eventually became disease with neglect, mis-communication and mis-aligned expectations.
Such is the nature of the acorns of friendships, or for that matter, most relationships. If we don’t grow them, or at least maintain them with adequate warmth of the sunshine of caring, the balanced nutrition of sharing our joys and sorrows, they tend to shrivel away. If we aren’t vested enough in the friendship or its growth, we will be unwilling to do the tough work of pruning the deadwood from our minds and pulling the weeds from our hearts.
For me to develop healing friendships that sustain me and my friends, I often have to choose to be a willing vessel that can effect healing. If one of my best friends that is Mother Nature is to heal me, I have to be willing to walk her way with my friendship shoes on. It is when my healing friendship with her is strong, and I am in good health because of her grace, that I can be a good friend to others.
So, I asked myself over the past few days – who are some of my very good friends over the long term? What makes them so? One answer that came to me was that my good friends are those who send a warm current through my heart. Thinking of my healing friendships, even for a fraction of a moment, brings a smile to my face, a sense of playfulness, a flash of joy.
And among them all, there is That One healing friendship which is omnipresent, permanent, and the harbinger of light and lightness. I am grateful for its presence in my heart, and a willing traveler among its path full of oak trees and acorns.
May we heal each other and “walk each other home” in friendship,
P.S. Join our friendly, healing community of #SpiritChat for our weekly twitter chat – Sunday, Sep 1 at 9amET. Namaste – @AjmaniK