I lost a friend the other day. I thought we were close. It got me thinking about what friendship really means. I was wondering if I was the problem, or maybe I just didn’t really understand what friendship means. I was so deep in thought about this question that I did not watch where I was going, and found myself bumping into someone and knocking him over. Immediately remorseful, I helped the gentleman up. It turned out that he was my Friendly Neighborhood Wise Man. When I apologized for not paying attention to where I am going and made sure he was not hurt, he answered, “It is ok my friend no harm done.”
It dawned on me that he could probably answer my question again. So I said, “Wise one, what does friendship actually mean?”
He smiled his worldly and enigmatic smile, and his eyes twinkled as he thought for a second. “I once saw a Palestinian man who helped an Israeli walk when he had a sprained ankle. I knew a Republican and a Democrat who always argued, yet when the Democrat needed help to pay a bill, the Republican gave him some money. I once saw a woman and a man laughing together. Then there was the day that the black man and the white man fought a fire together. All of these people, they are my best friends, though I have never seen any of them again. That is what friendship means to me.” He then smiled his smile as his eyes continued to sparkle at me.
I scratched my head. “How can they all be your best friend, especially if you do not know them? How are they friends at all?”
He almost laughed. “I looked into their eyes, and I saw myself. And I love myself. How could they not be? You too, are my best friend.” With that, he vanished, as he often seemed to do.
I realized that I really had many friends.