When I was a child playing outdoors in The Bronx, we used to sing rhymes. One of my favorite went like this: “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold!”
I am a big believer in the healing power of friendship. I love meeting new pals and I keep my old friends close.
Recently I hosted a Ladies Luncheon, which I created as a way to get some of my friends together. I know a lot of people from various parts of my life, and it was delightful for me to have a dozen of them in the same room … laughing, talking, eating, and laughing some more.
I have to admit that I’d never experienced a couple of my close pals the way I did at that luncheon. They were loud, free-spirited and mischievous, and almost turned my well-intentioned gathering into a roast of me. Yet the joy was unmistakable, even as we ribbed and teased one another. I felt totally fulfilled, confident in my belief that such a gathering helped us to deepen our bonds of friendship while providing much-needed comradery and stress relief.
Of course, in that highly organized style that I have, I not only distributed a well-designed menu of Ladies Luncheon choices but also shared the following “Thoughts on Friendship” by my mentor, Daisaku Ikeda (from his book Discussions on Youth), on a separate handout:
“Friendship is the most beautiful, most powerful, and most valuable treasure in life. It is your true wealth. No matter how much status a person may gain or how rich one may become, a life without friends is indeed sad and lonely; it also leads to an unbalanced, self-centered existence.”
Part of my journey is to move beyond a “self-centered existence” and to create a centered self, where I am able to give full expression to all parts of me while fully honoring who you are. Nurturing my friendships gives me ample opportunities to see myself in others, to emulate behaviors that I find admirable, and to be a good friend to another. Honesty, open-mindedness, willingness, trust, and respect are attributes that I value in myself and in my close friends. Daisaku Ikeda continues:
“It’s important to understand that friendship depends on you, not on the other person. It all comes down to your own attitude and contribution. I hope you will not be a fair-weather friend, only helping others when circumstances are good and leaving them high and dry when some problem occurs; instead, please become the kind of person who sticks by their friends with unchanging loyalty through thick and thin.”
Such guidance resonates deeply within my own life, because I strive to live a contributive existence. My true friends serve as guides along my journey of discovery, as I challenge myself to find the best way to live my own glorious life. I also pride myself on being a loyal, steadfast and reliable friend; I love that I can be counted on to be there in the tough times as well as the good ones. And no one appreciates a great big laugh more than I do! To belly laugh out loud with good friends is heaven on earth!
“If you always remain sincere in your interactions with others, you will one day naturally come to find yourself surrounded by good friends,” Ikeda writes. “And from among those people, you’ll forge lifelong friendships that are as strong and unshakable as a towering tree.”
I live the most fortunate life in that I get to experience many, many wonderful encounters with an infinite number of people, and that I am actively engaged in a dynamic and harmonious community of good friends. We have each other’s back. And frankly, what can be more healing and loving than that?
© 2017 Karen Williams
Karen Williams is a really good friend. She’d love to hear your thoughts about friendship. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org