Most friendships are built from common experience and shared interest.
We hang out at the same places and participate in the same kinds of things, and discover, almost by accident, a resonance. And for most of us, for most of the time, that is enough. Companionship through shared activity – these are our friends.
Occasionally, someone breaks through that, you start hanging out intentionally. No longer spurred on by the excuse of bumping into one another, you begin to seek one another out. And now, there is something more, a genuine friendship begins. A friendship that will survive the loss of the common space. These are the friendships which survive changes in life circumstances – the birth of children; moving cities or continents; and many more of life’s curve balls. I am blessed to say that I have at least a handful of these friends.
But, there is one step further. The friendship that will shape the person that you are. I have one such friend. We met about five and half years ago. We share both chemistry and Catholicism – an odd combination to be sure! As our friendship has developed the things we have in common remains, but as time goes on, it emerges that we are so different from each other. And yet, in the difference, and in the capacity to communicate with each other lies the gift for both of us.
This particular friendship has changed my life. For the first time, ever, I have been forced to challenge to my own way of seeing the world. This was precipitated not by my process, but by hers, initially. It began with recognising that whilst her choices were not mine, I could respect them, that she was ‘other’. Through that, some months later, I discovered that I could challenge my own unconscious way of being in the world.
The longer we are friends, the more different we recognise we are, but the more both of us value the friendship. It is a gift to be treasured