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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 02-Dec-05


Friday 02-Dec-05

Friends and fathers

What is a friend?

Last year was my father's 80th birthday party. As it happens, it was his last birthday, but we thankfully do not know how long we will last and it was jolly affair. I stood up to make a speech and realized, looking around, how many friends my father had, and so talked about friendship.

A friend is first of all someone with whom you can be yourself. You don't have to be the boss, the smart person, the fool. With real friends, we can shed our masks and be who we naturally are, because we know they accept us as we are, just as we accept them in their raw and unadorned state.

A friend is someone who you trust and who trusts you, with a depth born of long evidence. You can turn your back and they won't harm you. They will come to your assistance when you need aid, without having to be asked. A friend watches out for you.

Friends generally run at 'sloppy obligation neutral', in that you don't really count who owe who what favors. The balance of help and support can run a long way from the middle point, but you know that eventually it will be rebalanced in some way, perhaps even via another friend. They will listen and change their minds at your behest but will not change their concern for you.

There were about 500 people at my father's funeral, last Spring. He grew up, lived and died in the town where his ancestors had lived for hundreds of years, doing business with half of them and then switching career and teaching the other half. He never had a bad word about anyone and would quietly help any of his acquaintances in their hour of need. In small ways, he won a large following and lives on in the hearts of many. He was, in short, a gentleman.

He changed minds in simple and still ways, like sitting with those in trouble and making light of his own ills. People I'd never heard of came up to me and told me how he had made a lasting different to them. It made me very proud of my Dad.

You know a friend because they make you smile. My childhood memories of my father are of smiling, jokes and gentle chiding. In many ways, he didn't change my mind -- he made it.

When I think about my father, I don't feel sad. Sure, I miss him, but that's normal. But most of all, I am glad that I knew him, and that my children knew him and learned the fundamentals of friendship from him.

Your comments

I completely agree. I have a friend whom I have known for years and the only time I hear from her is when she needs something. I have given her money, time, sacrificed my family for her. I recently moved and she had given me her word that she would help. Well the day came and she wasn't around to help. I do not consider her a friend anymore and the next time she comes to me asking for a favor or needed help, I am going to be conveniently busy.

-- Hedda H.

thank you

-- jack

You were truly blessed to be gifted with a father who had so much generosity, maturity, wisdom, insight and understanding of the needs of people. To me, friendship is the highest level of relationship, the highest level of love, and the tool that we essentially need to grow and become the best we can be. I have devoted a site to this theme, and it is my belief that even death cannot separate true friends forever, so like you I celebrate the friends who have gone before me and am glad for each an every friend I have. We are not sad when our friends die if we know that we will meet them again, and I cannot prove that to the skeptic but I don't need to prove it to anyone to know it is true. Defining friendship is difficult because it is so mysterious but to me at the highest level friendship is one mind in two bodies, one mind with two expressions. If you don't mind, I would like to quote your blog on my site, with reference to this site.

Keep smiling Jack.


Dave replies:
Thanks, Joseph, and you're most welcome to quote the blog on your website.

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