The inexpressible value of friendship

It is perhaps the overbearing reflectiveness wrought by the New Year that prompts me to recall the inexpressible value of friendship.  Where will we be another year from now?  What intervening delights or perils will attach themselves to our natural evolution? What lingering regrets, if any, will persist to haunt us upon our recollection of the past, the people whom we have known, the places we have been, the things we have done?  It is a topical and sometimes burdensome project of reminiscence at this time of year, before the frozen snow is gone or the brown fields have revived their verdant luxury, before the solemn weight of February has disappeared into the earth abandoned by the groundhog, before springtime magically revives our unadulterated purpose and ambition?

I have to my thinking but one relationship in the history of valuable friendship which I consider to have regrettably vanished.  Indeed the characterization of the lapse as evaporation is preferable to the more severe possibility of destruction or estrangement by argument or disagreement. Yet my heart remains devoted to the history of our erstwhile friendship and coalition against the competing realities of life. It is a destitution I am reluctant to confess as perhaps one might recommend likewise in the interest of the acceptance of death. Are all things truly inevitable and inalterable? “Remember now in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I find no pleasure in them.”

One must accordingly preserve an on-going buoyancy in spite of the gravity of past or impending departure and disentanglement from the moorings threatened by the storms of life. Have we clung to those nearby similarly tossed about by the ravages of the sea? Our daily enterprise is forever energized by changing needs and direction. Yet we are bound to maintain alliances with those for whom we have for whatever reason an attachment. The preoccupation is akin to that of the shepherd preferring the relocation of the lost lamb to the herding of the flock. Such are the paradoxes of life! It is a reminder too that the condition of some is beyond the estimate of others. None of us is spared complication and injury.

“Perfect friendship is the friendship of men who are good and alike in virtue; for these wish well alike to each other qua good, and they are good themselves. Now those who wish well to their friends for their sake are most truly friends; for they do this by reason of own nature and not incidentally; therefore their friendship lasts as long as they are good-and goodness is an enduring thing.”

“Further, such friendship requires time and familiarity; as the proverb says, men cannot know each other till they have ‘eaten salt together;’ nor can they admit each other to friendship or be friends till each has been found lovable and been trusted by each.”