In this post, I would like to explore the idea of friendship. Ever since I read CS Lewis’s “Four Loves”, I have realised what an aid it can be to abstract the nature of human relationships. however, I continue to ponder his ideas. This post is not so much a conclusion to these pondering, but rather an account of some of them, in the hope that perhaps we can find ourselves pondering this idea together!
Of course, each and every relationship that one has with another person has it’s own “soul”, so to speak, and is different from every other. However, I agree with Lewis that there among these complexities, there are certain types. Some relationships are more like some and less like others. I personally find this differentiation useful to reflect upon, in order to value a little more what one has.
In line with this spirit of differentiation, I would like to start by distinguishing friendship from companionship. Companionship is sharing a common interest, like fencing, or memes. I went to the same school as somebody: I was his companion. This is not necessarily friendship, as it does not necessarily indicate sympathy, or even knowing a person much at all. This is not meant to put down companionship, which is all well and good, but simply to distinguish it.
Friendship is a little more substantial than being in the same group, or even sympathising (but rather empathising). Friendship really starts with a realised common ground, a discovered empathy: To paraphrase Lewis: It begins with a “Oh! You too? I thought I was the only one!” moment.
So friendship starts with a moment of empathy. After that, it can grow like a plant in the sun. Of course, like a plant in the sun, it can also diminish. But really I think that’s not to be seen as a bad thing, but rather something to be valued: Friendship, though valuable, is light. Of course, it could deepen, and last a lifetime. For this reason, I agree with the idea that a friendship can vary tremendously in degree, yet remain friendship
Although it is more than a common interest, it also retains a degree of passivity. It may not always seem evident until it’s no longer there. However, it is not apathetic, quite the contrary. Despite this evasiveness, I think it lends itself to frankness, and clarity: A simple alliance.
I must admit, I’m finding this concept extremely hard to put down in words. I hope to continue to formalise my understanding as time goes by. Friendship’s very clarity, and yet lightness, and simple empathy is, I would argue, an extremely undervalued (or perhaps watered down) relationship in this weighted, complex world.
Although, I am not yet satisfied with this explanation, I do hope that it has shed some light on the value of friendship. In future, I hope to formalise my understanding a little more, and maybe even come up with (or find!) a definition that concisely captures the uniqueness and of this subtle human relationship. So would appreciate any gems ye can share on this topic!