Few words in any language evoke such feelings of loyalty, trust, connection, passion, and compassion.
My Facebook page tells me I have nearly five thousand friends. And I actually have met (in person) about 93-95% of them; the benefits of having taught around four thousand souls (in public elementary schools and at the Bristol Jail) over a thirty year period.
It also helps that I am naturally “friendly”. Yes, I have many faults. And I have some deep flaws that I just can’t seem to beat; probably at least as many as most people I know. But being unfriendly would not be among them.
It seems to me there are several levels or degrees of friendship. To not every single “friend” would I expose my deepest life secrets (although I sometimes can come pretty darn close).
Indeed, there is much research that this is a great way to make friends; be open, even vulnerable. Because people then feel they can truly relate to you, simply because it is so often that others are facing (or have faced) very much the same problems in life, but are reluctant to discuss them with just anyone. I feel this is why we so often feel that our closest friends are in many ways very much like us.
I consider the readers of these words to be my friends, perhaps to a higher degree than many would expect. Truly, I do. I certainly don’t hide much about my own personal tragedies and shortcomings when I write here in this column, so it opens me up to others who have shared similar life experiences and who struggle with their own inner flaws (which is virtually everyone). Therefore, a reader of this column and I can actually develop a real and meaningful friendship bond between us.
Every once in a while a reader and I will form a bond that is far deeper, still; and without ever having met except through the words of this column.
Such a precious thing happened to me very recently.