Saturday, April 21, 2018

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, April 21, 2018 - The Level of Friendship

On what level of our psyche does friendship occur? What part of us is doing the feeling when we have a friend? Is it an area of our cerebral cortex? Is it in the air between us? Is it an entirely chemical reaction in the body? Where are the literal threads of my friendships and to what in me are they anchored?
I think most of us are comfortable with the notion that friendship is a real thing. Not imaginary. To be clear, I’m not speaking of the friends themselves. I’m speaking of the connection between them. That connection between you and your closest friend exists whether or not you are together. Across the globe from one another the friendship is no less strong. No less real.
Do we form these kinds of connections online as well as in “real life?” I would have to say yes. And we regularly form them with people we’ve never met. My mother had a penpal in Australia as a child. They wrote to each other for years. Decades later they finally met in person. Were they not friends until that point? Bonds between people strengthen with awareness and attention. Those are processes of the mind not the body.
What kind of connections do we have with people we’ve never physically met? Could we really deny that we have them? Is it possible for us to declare any form of friendship illegitimate? The fact that one can “friend“ someone on the Internet requires making a request. We may decline or accept it. But is that person now a “friend?” Aren’t they? We use the word. Does the word make it so? Wonder why the word ‘friend’ was chosen for the action of connecting with others online. Assume good. There’s something to it.
I think we somehow feel more comfortable in creating different categories, or levels, of friendship in our lives. We use words like ‘acquaintance’ or ‘colleague’ to differentiate between people whose company we actively enjoy and those with whom we occasionally interact, generally without conflict. But absence of conflict is not the definition of friend any more than is diplomacy. Many friends argue and many enemies smile at one another. What is a friend, really?
That is not my question to answer.
Where friendship actually occurs is the question I ask. Friendship is not tangible, yet we can feel it. Where is it being felt? The heart, one could say. And it’s probably true. We know physical connection, skin-to-skin contact, even from a handshake, boosts serotonin levels in the brain and makes us feel good. We “miss” people we are used to being around. Physical proximity does have physical advantages. But that does not make a friendship either. Is the heart a consciousness or a radio receiver? What if it’s both?
In this technological age, we are forced to redefine our concepts of neighbor, of friend. Scripture has tried to teach us that the word ‘neighbor’ both is and is not a metaphor. This planet is one, single neighborhood. We are all one tribe. Everyone is your neighbor. Especially now.
It’s okay to have thousands of friends. It’s okay to recognize that a connection links us all. The threads of friendship which exist between us were already there, long before any potential friend captures our attention and awareness. Connecting with them on the earth plane only serves to remind us of the celestial bond we always had. The literal connection between us was not created, it always was.
The interdependent web of all existence is the literal fabric of our friendships in the truest sense. Pull one thread and all are moved. That is the level of friendship. Do not seek to diminish it by declaring one form superior to another. There are only greater and lesser degrees of awareness, not friendship.
Be grateful for the vast quantity of friendships you have which are still unknown to you. For they are fully real.

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