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Old Friends

…sat on a park bench like bookends…

Over the past week I have learned to expand  my understanding of friendship. It took a physical encounter to expand my bubble of understanding, and so many threads came together to be something more. I think, in a profoundly meaningful way I watched myself learn something.

Experience is a wonderful teacher, and cliche as it sounds, I should know how true that phrase rings. All the reading in the world, all the listening, all the watching can inform, but it is not until it is your own that you learn and know. My understanding of friends and friendship expanded and I shed a layer of skin and got closer to myself.

The breakthrough in my brain came like watching the transformation of B&W to colour. If you haven’t experienced this, have a look at the work of Marina Amaral in this article (warning, the images are of graphic historical events). If you scroll down there’s a slider in a couple of images and you can see the transformation from B&W to colour. The graphic nature of the images is relevant, and reminds me that change often comes about because the status quo has been broken, perhaps through inspiration, but more commonly from discomfort – a need to change. My understanding grew through a response to a need, and three of us rallied together to deal with the issue.

Through both joy and sorrow, I realised that the bonds we have run deeper than I knew- and people I interact with across the world, who are usually far away, are friends. We cannot run across a street or field and play in the same way I knew ‘friends’ as a child, but we are friends, and we came together to laugh and support one another in a beautiful way.

For all the talk on digital literacy and understanding, the aspect of the importance and value of human interaction somehow is not usually in the manual. That is odd because behind every bum on a seat, every typer of text, there is a person- online and off. I was talking to someone in the Netherlands last week and he relayed something someone said about progress:

We proceed at the rate of trust

-and I was reminded of the humanity of interaction. In my experience, what made the learning so vibrant, was the complete trust. Perhaps that’s what doesn’t come to the surface so clearly in everyday interactions.

You can see I’m having a hard time putting a finger on it, naming it, putting it into writing, but it is an important one to acknowledge and share. (eloquence eludes me) Friends go beyond physical, and although we all are physical people, I may never meet you and you can be just as real a friend as the person sitting next to me at the lunch table, but we don’t always say – I needed you and you were there – because we’re just having coffee or soup or whatever.

The past week the transcendent nature of friendship became real to me. So often I have thought I have few or no friends around me because so many of those I am closest to are so far away, but I was wrong. It’s not true at all, even if we don’t ‘see’ each other for months or years. I hope those who are far away know that too- hopefully it doesn’t take a crisis to bring your ah-ha moment.

My bubble of understanding has grown. Meeting people is wonderful, and nothing replaces real hugs, but it doesn’t take in-person contact to be wonderful, cherished friends.

Bubble image by CC-BY ikram elhossni Featured image CC-BY-ND-NC by Malte Borggrewe

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. So true, so true. Perhaps the word friend need not have the adjective “online”?

    I want to remember this powerful idea “We proceed at the rate of trust” yet wonder too about trust being built on mutual contributions of vulnerability/risk.

    April 29, 2018
    • Laura #

      mutual indeed. it takes two to tango (I’m full of clichés today) -but sometimes we just don’t realise the other person is there too – missing noticing the cues that might be there if people were sitting opposite. I’m grateful for your trust. Thank you.

      April 29, 2018

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