We’re each of us alone, to be sure. What can you do but hold your hand out in the dark?Ursula K. Le Guin, The Wind’s Twelve Quarters, Volume 1
All of us need a friend, at least one, to be with when we are in need for support in the hard times, and for sharing, in the better times.
What is life without friendship? Not much, very little, in fact. All of us have friends for an hour, friends for the situation, but real friends? Not many it seems. Not everyone we call a friend is really like that. And what is actually a real friend? And what happens at the age of 50? With how many friends is a person left with? As young people, we do not intend to go through our life without friends. We see our life full with many friends or with few high-quality dedicated friends. This is a complex and quite difficult subject (the friends that abandoned us, the friends we did not have, the friends we almost had, friends we thought we had, and so on).
Here I would like to focus on the friendship between men and the friendship between women. And what about friendship between men and women? Is it possible or are the emotional and sexual elements making it difficult? Well, after the sexual urges and the infatuation (falling in love) are over, what is left, as an option, is the option of a friendship. In falling in love it is the attraction of opposite poles, in friendship, it is what is of the same value, or the same frequency – which keeps them together. So, what is friendship? Well, friendship is about the unification and partnership of two similar or identical autonomic individuals, that got together to support and strengthen each other.
Part I: Friendship Between Men
It is best to start with stories: legends, fables, folk stories – how is friendship being portrayed there? For example Sir Lancelot and Sir Galahad in the stories about the Knights of the Round Table. Or in the Talmud, it is being told about a friendship between a robber and a Rabbi: Rabbi Yohanan and Resh Lakish. The third friendship is between two sufis: Mevlana Rumi & Shams i Tabriz. In these three stories, the two future friends meet while they fight each other, displaying their courage and determination, and after it was made clear who is the more capable amongst the two, the friendship was made between them. Here is the friendship which is typical for men, and it is called: comradeship. And it is defined in the Cambridge dictionary as the feeling of friendship between people who live or work together, especially in a difficult situation. In the two last stories, those on the two Talmud Rabies, and the two Sufis – we find interesting common lines: one of the two was a robber and an outlaw (Resh Lakish and Shams I Tabriz), and the two others (Rabi Yohan and Mevlana Rumi) were admired, wise men. Their coming together was so powerful that it became more important for them than their own life. And in both cases, it ended with a tragic death, at least of one of the two.
This is an idyllic friendship, in which the two men start the friendship with a test of strength and the loser respects the winner and becomes his friend, and accepts the power of both, and puts the friendship above personal glorification. Where does this exist today? If at all?
What is good about the friendship described here is that after agreeing about who is more powerful and leading – they put the whole issue of power struggle, for once and for all, behind them, and now they can be free to dedicate themselves to grow the friendship, for this is what is important.
Today friendship between men begins with them getting along, behind which there are hidden interests and dominance. But it could be (and maybe once it was) different; a highly spirited partnership, going out on a journey when each endangering himself for the sake of arriving together to the common goal.
Part II: Friendship Between Women
The idyllic friendship between women is a completely different world. If friendship between men is something like the wild wind blowing in the distant mountain tops – then friendship between women is a gentle caress, hugging, full of grace, compassion and softness, supporting and empathic. The friendship between women is a therapy, a bandage, a cool hand on the hot forehand from pressure and completion. And also it is a warming hand to those who freeze in the cold of loneliness and dumping.
If men begin their friendships in wrestling that comesnto measure internal inner strength, then women begin their friendship by manifesting weakness. And when they display weakness or a loss or sadness – it is a test case for the other woman for the compassion she can transmit. And in the same way that male friendship is like stainless steel of two units intertwined one in the other in order to create a strong chain that cannot be disconnected – the friendship between women is a gate of mercy in which one is entering when there is no strength to continue ahead.
With men, at best, it is a friendship of warriors; at the beginning of life, it is the standing together against the threatening surges, and in the second part of life it is the slopes and difficulties of middle age.
Friendship of women, at its best, is amazing grace, embracing the tired and wounded soul and gives her the human warmth that allows her to recuperate from within. The softness that comes from a female friend allows recuperating the softness that got lost because of the hardness of life.
But with it, in the ideal friendship, which fulfills our whole being – both elements, male and female, are present.
But here we need to make a difference between a real friendship and a social friendship; a social friend is a kind of which we have quite a few, we collect them. We can also use friendship as an antithesis to our loneliness, not because of the other and not because of what could happen between us, but because of what we experience when there are no friends. The social friendship is shallow, talking about what is socially acceptable. In this relationship, they talk about things and objects, whereas in a real friendship we talk about relationships and inner, private feelings. Here the roots are going deep into our inner life.
What is our life without friendship?
It is a broken heart, bitterness, loneliness and with the heavy load of our difficulties that we have no one to share with.
It is easy to get comfort in the external, superficial friendship, and to neglect the friendship that penetrates into the depth of the soul.