I find myself with a little time on my hands. What this really means is that I have forgotten to do something. But, that is neither here nor there since it has been forgotten. Today, I was reading a book by R.W. Emerson entitled Love and Friendship. Ralph Waldo and I have been on first initial terms for years now. This pretty much began when I purchased the above mentioned book at an estate sale and noted that he referred to himself as RW. Feel free to look up the book to verify this. If you do, let me know if the actual title is Love and Friendship. Anyway, RW says that the two things that must be present in order for friendship to exist are sincerity and tenderness. He goes on for pages elaborating in ways that are mostly over my head. Nevertheless, I think that I concur. In order for friendship to exist, both parties must be truthfully transparent but with a lens that desires to know and love the core of a person. I realize that me and RW have lofty aspirations for friendship, which is why my existence, much like his, is somewhat isolated.
I have no doubt there are a plethora of people out there that consider me their friend. Not because I am so amazing, but because modern culture uses the word 'friend' to mean anyone that you met for coffee and blessed with your presence once or twice. I, however, do not consider these people to be my friends. Although, occasionally, these meetings include sincerity, there is never time for tenderness. Tenderness requires a desire for genuine connection. It cannot be accomplished when there are pressing matters or better 'friends' to rush off to long before a $4 cup of coffee or $15 meal can get cold.
My definition of friendship might be a bit out dated, after all RW has been gone for quite some time now, but it is a beautiful ideal. One that has the potential to bring life and affirmation to all involved. Two things that most of us, if we are being honest, are desperate for.
In case you are wondering or possibly even worrying if we are friends, just ask yourself three questions.
(1) Have you and I been sincere with one another?
(2) At some point over the years, have we made time and room for one another in the chaos that is life?
(3) Have we ever had coffee together?
If your answers to these questions are 'no', 'no' and 'what is she talking about?', it is a pretty safe bet we are merely acquaintances. This is not a bad thing; acquaintances are great if you need to borrow something, have a laugh or plan a well balanced party. Feel free to use my little test to see where you stand with others. And, do yourself the favor of making sure you have at least one person in your life that gets a couple affirmative answers.