Most people become friends by circumstances. Studying in the same school, same university, working in the same company, staying in the same neighborhood, exercising in the same gym, playing in the same club, all this is circumstantial friendship. But circumstances shouldn’t be the basis of friendship.
Many people choose their friends based on gains. Wealth, popularity, bullying power, cars, cool gadgets, getting entry into the best parties, all this and more become the basis of choosing a friend. Friendship that is based on gains is cryptic selfishness. When the gain goes, the friend goes.
The most important element of choosing a friend is like-mindedness. When people of equal disposition connect with one another, an amalgamation is formed that never separates under any sort of pressure, temperature, weather, time frame or circumstance. Like I mention in my book, The Magic of Friendship, to have a deep connection, there has to be like-mindedness. There is an interesting discussion by a Persian poet who said, “I saw a grass bunch surround a rose plant.” In great anger he cried, “How dare the lowly grass live in the proximity of the majestic roses?”
Just when he was about to pluck out the grass, a feeble voice spoke up in all humility. “Please allow me to stay. I may not be a rose, but from the fragrance of my perfume anyone would know that at least I have lived with the great roses.”
The question is how long can grass and roses stay together? Yes, they can benefit from each other for some time, but to stay together more reason is needed than proximity. Friendships cannot be developed over night. They need cultivation. And cultivation requires time. Loving bonds are seen to grow into three stages. The first is the nursery stage, the second is a garden stage and the third is the forest stage.
The nursery stage of any relationship is the stage where saplings of love are growing. They are in nascent stage and need to be protected from external sources and internal misunderstandings. If enough care and precaution is not taken at this stage then the sapling of love will never grow into a full-fledged plant.
When love between friends develops further it reaches the garden stage. In nursery small saplings are grown, but in a garden stage they have been transformed into full-fledged plants. What was originally a small seed of love has now grown into a garden.
But there are some special friendships that grow even beyond that. They reach the third stage of love, which is the forest stage. A forest is so big that one need not plant anything but, in every direction, there are innumerable trees. In a forest, trees grow on their own rapidly and need not be cultivated or monitored.
In cultivating a nursery and a garden a lot of care has to be taken. But once love takes the shape of a forest, then too much care is not needed. Now it’s beyond a point where any external sources can damage it or even internal conflicts can damage it.
One in a million friends will reach this stage of friendship. It would be ideal if everyone has at least one friend with whom the loving relationship has reached the forest stage.
(The writer is an author, Tedx speaker, story-teller, corporate trainer and visiting faculty in several premier management schools)
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