First published Sunday, December 6, 2015
What is friendship? What does it mean to you? In a world where it seems we are perhaps increasingly suspicious of everyone around us, those we do trust as friends are perhaps more and more important. In amongst the near constant stream of bad news from all over the world, are stories of friendship, of kindness, of people willingly helping others, be they friends or strangers.
How do we define what makes someone a friend? That will undoubtedly mean different things to different people, but there’s probably a common thread in those definitions – trust, a feeling of being supported, cared about, someone who is there to share both good times and tough times.
A quick scroll through any social media timeline will almost certainly provide glimpses of friendship in one form or another – after all the content shown tends to be generated by those regarded as friends – and there will likely be a few ‘inspirational’ quotes with definitions of friendship mixed in along the way too.
At the present time and for a whole host of reasons, I am extremely grateful that I have people in my life I consider as friends. At times I wonder why some of them stick around, given that my mood of late hasn’t always been bright, cheerful and optimistic, though I suppose that is part of what makes someone a friend – they choose to stand by those that matter to them, for whatever reason, even when the going is a bit rough. These people are invaluable, and I am extremely fortunate to have such support from some great folks. I hope that my own efforts to reciprocate such are as thorough – true friendship works both ways, at least it does for me.
But what about those who aren’t so fortunate? As Christmas approaches, we are bombarded with adverts and messages about those who face the world, the day to day stuff, challenges, illnesses, and much more, alone. Yes the time of year provides plenty of opportunity to tug on the heart strings of those who do have company, friends and family, to remind them that there are others who are not so lucky, and I suppose this post is no different, but there are 365 days in a year – why should we only be prompted to think of others in so few of them? From time to time there are stories in the media of people attending or paying for a funeral of someone who died with no known friends or relatives, or other helping out those affected by natural, or man made, disaster. Why do we wait until something like that happens to offer friendship to others?
Something as simple as a smile, or a ‘good morning’, could be all it takes to brighten another person’s day. Friendship takes time to build, of course it does, and it takes time to get to know someone, understand them, and chart all of the complexities that get built in to that relationship, but for someone who perhaps is without the support of friends and family, being noticed and appreciated could make all the difference. A real, life changing difference. Loneliness is a cold and unforgiving thing. Warm someone’s day by extending the hand of friendship, giving them a smile, a kind word or two. It doesn’t have to cost anything, but could create a major change in their world, in your world, and in our world, the one we share.