Today I leave Annapolis after visiting Sian and Kyle and the girls – Kate and Hannah. As I am getting ready to leave, I am thinking about how I experienced friendship over the last four days. As I ponder, I reflect on all my other friendships and can see the commonalities in all.
Friendship is an opening of myself to others without fear of judgement. In return, I become a container for the feelings and exchanges of others so that they can open themselves to me. It is an ebb and flow where each person gets time in the spotlight showing themselves while the other pays attention. This is about honest sharing; the bearing of inner selves and private thoughts that go beyond the meal sharing, social events and the chats over the glass of wine.
Friendship celebrates differences. Differences make us interesting and gives me a reason to be around others. I can learn when someone thinks differently from me, I can ask better questions or look at something in a new way. I do not have to agree, nor do I always need to say that I disagree. No one is asking permission for their thoughts so sometimes it’s not important what I think. When I am moved to disagree I do so respectfully, keeping my comments targeted to the topic on hand.
Friendship is about being polite. “Thank You”, “Your Welcome” and “How are you?” express true appreciation and gratitude for the little things on a daily basis. This allows me to acknowledge effort even when it is an unconscious action or thought.
In friendship, I spend time being together and time apart. This is not a joined-at-the-hip relationship. While we need time together to be friends, we also need time away to reflect and recharge. This allows me to give my full attention to the other person when I emerge. I can fully engage with them because I have re-energized and am now fully focussed.
Friendships comes with responsibility. I am responsible for my behavior and how I treat my friends as well as how I let them treat me. This includes what I say, how I say something and the way that I engage with the persons. It calls for setting boundaries and respecting those of others.
Friendship requires action and thoughts. What is friendship to you? How do you experience it? What works for you?