"I've got dozens of friends and the fun never ends at least as long as I'm buying" The Styx, Too Much Time on My Hands
I have a friend who insists that true friends do not allow their friendship to fade easily. She insists that, like a marriage, both parties must constantly invest in maintaining their friendship. When she moved halfway around the world it seemed inevitable that we would drift apart. But she never allowed that to happen. My life is better today because she is such a tenacious friend.
For my Australian friend, the word “friend” can not be used lightly. A friend is one of the handful of people who remain constant and close throughout your life. A friend is someone who has passed the test of time and who has proven to be reliable and trustworthy. Reliable in the sense that you can call that person at 4:00 in the morning because your life is crashing down around you and you have been crying all night and you desperately need to feel connected with someone who cares. Trustworthy in the sense that when you bare your soul, they will not judge you. They will set aside their own problems and listen to you as if you are the only person who matters at that moment. Friends are very special people.
Not all friendships are like that. Many are just arrangements between acquaintances who offer each other mutual advantages. They might provide someone you can call when you have nobody else to keep you company at dinner or someone who can be relied upon to compliment you on your new shirt no matter how unremarkable or someone who will laugh at your jokes or just make you feel superior. For all you know they may be feeling equally superior at your expense. It doesn’t really matter.
Unfortunately the word “friend” has been devalued. We live in an interconnected world where strangers add each other to their friends list, where everyone is on a pulpit tweeting to their followers, and where you can text everyone in your very long contacts list in a matter of seconds. So much easier than a personal email and so much less risky than a voice call. People have hundreds of such friends, but how many of them can you rely on to be there for you in your darkest hour of need?
As I grow older I am learning to be more picky about how I invest my time and emotions. I have learned that, like my true friend in Australia, I must work hard to preserve those friendships which matter. Everyone else is just an acquaintance and life is too short to worry much about them.