They say that friendship is a lot of work. Sometimes, I admit, it does seem that way. Friends require that you check in with them on a fairly regular basis, hold their hands when they need it, hold your tongue when you must, forgive when they disappoint you, and thank them when they come through for you. Friends require that you remember their birthdays, send cards or gifts at Christmas, sympathize for their losses and help them to celebrate their victories. Friends require a modicum of honesty, but not brutal frankness. Friends require caring when you’re just too tired to care.

Maybe that’s why some people turn into hermits. People who are termed “schizoid” in psychological jargon tend to keep to themselves. They are the “loners”, the “workaholics” who stay long after all their colleagues have gone home to family, and often they are quite successful and may be described as having “tunnel vision”. They stay away from distractions – like other people. I guess you could say that such people find the necessity to protect themselves from possible hurt more urgent than the need to nourish their souls.

But good, true friendship – the kind that prevails over time, distance, and even memory, is a treasure worth fighting for. This morning Art and I spoke with a dear friend whom we have known for many years. Even though she lives halfway across the country and we only might see her once a year, if we’re lucky, the feeling between us is always one of warmth and kindness, with a lot of laughter thrown in for good measure. We must have been on the phone for over half an hour.

I used to think that family was enough. I used to think that friendship was somewhere farther down on my priority list than, say, career, or even grocery shopping. I no longer feel that way. Family is wonderful, and there is no substitute for family. But good friends become family as much as your biological family. And there is room and need for both in this life.

This morning we talked about our health and the health of our spouses, our families, pets, small discoveries, weather, and even the foliage in our respective climates at this time of year. Nothing exceptionally “deep” was discussed. The depth is underneath the words, like a score under a movie. You never really notice it, except perhaps in retrospect. It’s just there.

When we got off the phone this morning, I felt like my spirit had been bathed in warm sunlight. I felt someone had heard me, understood me, and appreciated me. And I felt I had been able to do the same for her. If you put it in terms of investment, this is what is known as a great rate of return.

© 2005, Robin Munson

 Category: Robin's Nest

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