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In a , I discussed how friendship ‘is friendship’ because friends have capacity for enhancement of our joys. When we share our joys with friends who know us well, they are able to participate in and enhance our joy. There is commonality of knowledge and understanding of which strangers, and perhaps even family lack capacity. While friends also can share our pain, personally, I’d rather dwell on and desire friends’ enhancement of my joy, as opposed to co-bearing of my pain.

I’d rather have joy to share with friends than pain in need of co-bearing.

I was watching a movie (Home of the Brave) the other day. The movie was about some U.S. soldiers who survived a bomb attack in Iraq, who were discharged for injuries then returned home to the United States. During one of the scenes, a guy and a gal who survived same bomb attack were connecting so much over their experiences, I half expected them to begin kissing right there in public view. Now I know bonding romantically over a traumatic experience can have tendency not to hold up over time. But in that moment when it seemed the other person was the only person with whom they could connect, time be damned it seemed. In the same movie the only person who fell through the cracks had no friends, pushed some would be friends away, was pushed away by someone he thought was a friend.

Friends understand the meaning between words, the unspoken words in gestures or body language because they know you in ways people who are not your friends simply are unable to conceive in their minds.

So then excluding your significant other and your parents, but inclusive of your siblings, just how many people have enough connection with or understanding of you that you would expect they understand you in ways others cannot even conceive? By the way that childhood friend you have not seen in 10 years, does not count. If your significant other uses his or her understanding of you against you (for put downs), as opposed to utilizing it for enhancement of friendship feel free to include your significant other. Better still, ask yourself why exactly you still are in that relationship. But then again its none of my business right? On a different note, a character played by Samuel L. Jackson in the movie I alluded to earlier happened on an understanding spouse who wanted to be his friend, yet attempted to pull away until he lost control. Luckily his spouse stayed, stood by him. Some guys or gals just do not know when they have it good do they?

How many friends did you come up with? Four? Three? Two? One? Zero? Remember, we are talking people who can participate in your most heart felt joys, not just people with whom you can sit for hours chatting.

The number you came up with reflects the extent to which your path has diverged significantly from others in circles within which you grew up. If you have changed churches since you became an adult, if you have chosen a different religion from that of your parents, if you have migrated away from a small town, if you have attained to higher educational achievements than people with whom you attended High School you might be closer to zero than four. If you have maintained a lot of commonality with people in circles within which you grew up you might be closer to four than zero. You might be so blessed you can count ten.

Having arrived at a number, and assuming you are right about people you have counted as your friends, suppose you demand friendship in order to do the right thing not just to your friends, but to anyone and everyone. This means you demand from a total stranger understanding and capacity for enhancement of your joy of which they are incapable in order for you to treat them right. By the same token, total strangers make same demand of you in order to treat you right.

Clearly, from our consideration of demands of friendship and how it is not too many people have capacity for friending any one person, to demand friendship from strangers as condition for right treatment is to demand that which simply is ‘unbearable’. Just how many people with whom you did not grow up, with whom you did not attend High School, with whom you were not familiar with in college have capacity to truly get you? I am not saying it is impossible to meet someone, a total stranger who truly gets you. I am saying when you find such a person you are to realize you have been blessed with something special, something truly beautiful and amazing, something worthy of celebration.

One of the problems of today’s society is people are demanding friendship as condition for doing of what is right. Perhaps it is because this generation is lonelier than ever has been; but in the demand for friendship as condition for right behavior, as condition for right treatment of others people increasingly are imposing an unbearable burden on interpersonal relationships.

Demanding friendship for right behavior is unbearable for others and not good for you because demand for friendship from a person not well placed for giving of friendship sets up a relationship for failure. When the relationship fails you feel let down, yet the let down was inevitable because friendship was demanded from a person who did not know you well enough to truly be your friend. We find then that sometimes attempts at friendship are doomed from onset because one or both parties demand friendship as condition for right treatment of the other.

If you are to make the most of your relationships, it must be the case that you dissociate right treatment of others from search for friendship. In the dissociation of right living, or right treatment of others from search for friendship you set yourself free to find the most meaningful one, two, three, or ten friendships a lifetime could produce. You set yourself free to enjoy companionship of those who do not have inherent capacity for becoming of your friend. Yet usher yourself into deep heartfelt joys created in context of time spent with friends, with people who truly get you.

To find people who truly get you, you first have to set everyone around you free from any demands for friendship. In the setting of everyone free you set yourself free to find the truest most meaningful friendships. Friendships you can count as one, two, three…without hesitation when asked just how many people you can count as friends. In the setting of everyone free, you find you eat your cake yet continue to have it — you enjoy commonalities inherent in companionship of those who do not fully get you, and heartfelt joys of friends, those who most truly get you. What’s not to like about that?

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Educator and Researcher, Believer in Spirituality, Life is serious business, but we all are pilgrims so I write about important stuff with empathy and ethos

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