Social Jungles:

The Virtues Of Friendship

“Don’t walk in front of me… I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me… I may not lead. Walk beside me… Just be my friend.” – Albert Camus

Life is hard. The fortitude to keep going in the face of endless struggle tests even the most determined resolve. To have another person you can rely on, who you can trust to provide any kind of reliable support, is a powerful gift. Even just on a psychological level, the feeling that you’re not alone, that there is someone else who understands or cares, can be remarkably empowering. It’s not about a transaction, or some expectation of what a friend can or should provide, but rather the symbol that their presence elicits, the feeling that it evokes. In a sometimes lonely world, it can make you feel far less alone.

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” – Anais Nin

As each person has their own perspective on life to impart, the presence of friends creates a series of unique learning opportunities for you to expand and refine your own outlook or actions for the better. Friends can expose you to new, positive experiences that enhance your worldview. However, they may also create obstacles that challenge or shift it, sometimes painfully. Part of growing as a person is not just learning to accommodate or embrace other perspectives, but also gaining the strength to discard those perspectives which truly harm us.

“Can miles truly separate you from friends… If you want to be with someone you love, aren’t you already there?” – Richard Bach

The impact that our friends have on us transcends their physical presence. The lessons learned, experiences enjoyed and laughter shared, leave lasting impressions in our hearts and minds that we may carry with us always. While alone, even in the darkest of moments, one can turn inward and imagine what their familiars would say or do. Even companions thought lost, are never truly gone. Their memory, born anew within, may well bestow wisdom, strength or joy for those struggling when they most need support.

“We should meet in another life, we should meet in air, me and you.” – Sylvia Plath

Even the spirit of friends never truly known, may impart profound influence over one’s perspective on life. Things that might have been but never were, lost desires never fulfilled, that remind us of what we hoped to achieve and how precious each missed opportunity may have been. Those we took for granted, experiences we misunderstood, people inadvertently harmed, all creating a series of apparitions in the mind, ghosts that linger if only to help us become more than we are.