Friendship: What is it?

This is in response to the prompt on this topic here.

I’m sure we all know for ourselves, what a friend is, and by extension, what friendship is. But could you define it? A dictionary will give you something like ‘One who is held by another in warm regard and/or affection, especially if not part of the same family.’ OK, fair enough, I wouldn’t argue with a definition like that. But does it go far enough?

You might judge the warmth of a friendship according to how much you think a person would do for you, if you were in trouble or some kind of need. That would be fair, too, but what, exactly, is the motivating force?

Just try this little exercise: Grab a piece of scrap paper (yes, the back of that messed-up photo-copy will do nicely) and a pen. Holding the paper steady with your free hand, write your full name, followed by whatever else comes randomly into your head at that moment. Then sign it, fold the paper in half, an rest the pen on top.

There are now some of your dead skin cells on the pen and the paper. Some dead, no-longer connected bits of the physical you.

Now think about the last conversation you had with anyone you would call a true friend. You may have had hours of incessant chatter, or exchanged a handful of words; how did you feel afterwards, as opposed to beforehand? How did you hope they felt? If indeed you are true friends, something of each other should remain in your minds. Something alive, vital, fresh and special, powerfully connected with the whole person. And it will grow, right until you meet again. Rather like a signature. Only better.

What do you think?

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I Read the News Today…

This post was prompted by, er, well, ‘The Prompt’ here.

I read the news today. Or I should say, recapped on it a little. but first, let’s think about what, exactly, comes under that ubiquitous heading – the single word ‘news.’

The very word itself suggests what is new. Something to tell others about, that represents a change from how things were, or how they usually are. But then, this can include what is very public (items broadcast by the commercial media, that are of interest to a large proportion of the population) or, at the extreme opposite end of the scale, part of a letter or phone call from a loved one. This could be very sobering, such as news of terminal illness amongst close family; or exciting, like the statement “George rang me. Helen’s had a little boy at six o’clock this morning!”

It’s all news.

Now I want to focus on two items of news that were in this little recapping exercise of mine; one from the first category – the widely published news. The other, although not intensely intimate, probably only picked up by a relatively small number of followers of one particular Twitter account – although no less significant, to me at least, because of that.

The first one, most people in Britain will know something about; the details of the panic, chaos, and worse incidents surrounding the oh-so-ironically well-named ‘Black Friday.’ I quote: “Shops hit by chaos and violence… Three people arrested…” I could go on, but you’ve heard it all already.

Let’s think for a minute. In many parts of the world, countless thousands of people lack so many of the things we take for granted, like good fresh food, piped water, and sanitation. That’s to say nothing of general healthcare and protection by enforcement of the law. And let’s not forget, here in our own country, compassionate charities are picking up many who are falling through the net of the welfare system, often because of some quirk in the rules. And, erm, what, exactly, were we squabbling over?

A cheap telly? Fashion clothing at half price or less? Unbeatable offers on countless other ‘essentials’ of the Western world?

Now let’s look at the other news item I was thinking of. It’s really summed up in this picture, that was put out over Twitter, used by kind permission of the owner:

IMG_20141201_175928The little girl here has just put money in the East Anglia Air Ambulance collection box. She doesn’t know much about money, yet. But I’m quite sure she knows that you can get sweets or toys with it. She’s done something else with it. OK, she’s not a wage-earner. She was given to, then she gave.

Now have a look at some Black Friday news photos (any of the big news websites will oblige) and then look at that face above. The discontent of grabbing, or the joy of giving: Which is more ‘grown up’? Which fits better with the time of year? Which would you like to identify with?

Lots and lots of gifts like this little girl made, added together, mean that if, just before the week-end, sometime, you are injured and miles from help, somewhere in East Anglia where a road vehicle cannot travel (not that I’d wish this on anyone) it might, for you, not be quite such a…

Black Friday.

Thank you for reading.

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