Friendship is not easy to define or even describe. Companionship, camaraderie, fellowship, amity– these may be good synonyms as far as dictionary use is concerned, but friendship is something special for those who are blessed with it! I am told that the Eskimos have a hundred different words for snow. How I wish the English language could offer us those many options for the words that we use so lovingly! All we have are adjectives to describe different kinds of friends– such as a close friend, best friend, childhood friend, school friend, trusted friend, and so on.
Friendship is special to all of us, and friends are treasured people in our lives. It was a wise man who pointed out that we can't pick or choose our family, and we are severely limited in the number of family members. But there is no limit to the number of friends we can choose and keep for life!
The ideal friendship is selfless and undemanding, expects no material benefits, transcends all barriers of class, caste and social status, and yet sustains the highest values of mutual care and affection. Genuine friendship allows for open and free communication without flattery or hypocrisy, and brings the joy of pure affection, free from ulterior motives.
How to honour true friendship:
• Allow your friends to be themselves. Accept them as they are, along with their imperfections.
• Give your friends their personal space. Respect their privacy, even as you retain your own.
• Always be ready to help your friends.
• Do not offer advice unless it is asked for, and offer only constructive advice.
• Be loyal to your friends– see them through good times as well as bad times.
• Learn to praise your friends and appreciate their achievements.
• Always be honest with your friends, speak out your feelings.
• Learn to trust time-tested friends. Never ever doubt their loyalty or goodness.
Offering and receiving the great gift of friendship is one of the greatest joys of a well-lived life. Our friends need us, even as we need them. The effort we add in making friends and keeping them will surely render our lives rewarding and fulfilling.
(Dada J.P. Vaswani is humanitarian, philosopher, educator, acclaimed writer, powerful orator, messiah of ahimsa, and non-sectarian spiritual leader.)