Perhaps the hardest thing to define, at least in English, with the notable exception of ‘love’ is what friendship is.

Like love, friendship has perhaps as many meanings as there are people on this planet. Or perhaps that is the people of this planet divided by 2 if we only consider friendship as being a social attachment. But in that context we could dispense with the entire profession of ‘life coaches’, those amazing people quite ready to tell you how to live your life without ANY of the same experiences as you. Like a Roman Catholic priest counselling on marital life when his entire experience has awarded jail time to a number of his mentors. But I digress.

The dictionary definition is quite shallow – noun – the state of being a friend; association as friends: to value a person’s friendship. A friendly relation or intimacy. Friendly feeling or disposition. Hardly scratches the surface imho.

So how do we define ‘friendship’? Is it ‘love’ without eros? Or is it love as in ‘agape’? Or is it something entirely different?

Poets will tell you that you might last a short time without water or food but that you would die without love. Does the same apply to friendship? Or is friendship more a societal norm, like the members of a rugby team heading out for a beer after the game? Is friendship about saying ‘Hello!’ to passing minor acquaintances on the street?

You will find that I ask a lot of questions. It drives my wife crazy at times, and for her sanity I tend to only ask a small percentage that come to mind. But can we not create without first questioning? Or is a tenet of friendship the ability to recognize someone as constantly asking questions and still wish to be their friend?

I have a friend who is a gifted artisan. I am also mildly addicted to puns. But, to this point anyway, she has not told me to shut up (maybe after reading this she may…), rather making her own comment about my form. It does build a sense of friendship, though I am trying hard not to abuse that friendship with an over supply of malapropisms. That is hard work for me, but something I feel I need to do to preserve the friendship.

I had a friend once, Ali, you will meet in another post down the road. Ali was much older than I was, and worked doing menial jobs for me, far below his intellect. But he was quite willing to share his knowledge with me, answering my questions about his country and religion, always patient and we developed a friendship that lasted all the time I was in his country. I have not seen him since but I know if I were to meet him (if he is still alive) we would probably continue on with our last conversation. That is friendship.

Friendship is no casual bond, as the dictionary would have us believe. There are no degrees of friendship, in fact to put degrees on friendship would perhaps deny its’ existence. You are either friends or not. While there are degrees of what you would do to express your friendship (bringing chicken soup to a sick friend or stepping in front of a bullet for a friend being two examples), at the end of the day you are simply friends or not.

And are there different types of friendship, or just different expressions of friendship? We human beings like to label things, putting them in tiny little square boxes that are easy to tote about in that Cabella backpack.

So many questions, but an adventure to explore what friendship is, with a few examples of friendships in my life that I have valued and still value to this day.

Love on the other hand, well that is a whole other can of worms I have no intention of exploring…

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