It’s been said if you can count them on one hand, you’re doing very well. Friends, that is. I’m not trying to brag or anything, but I must be extremely fortunate. Without specifying numbers, I can count my friends on more than two hands. I’m not talking acquaintances here. People you say hi to once in a while, maybe even invite to dinner occasionally, and perhaps have a five-minute—often mundane and meaningless—conversation with when you bump into them in the grocery store.
I’m talking inner circle people. Those who know you well, know your character flaws, and love you anyway. Those who—as long as you don’t cross a moral red line in the sand—are willing to forgive and forget your indiscretions. I’m talking people who would give you the shirt of their back, loan you money (if they had it), drop everything and come running to your aid if you were suffering a major crisis. I’m talking about people with whom you connect with on an emotional and intellectual level. People you can tell your innermost secrets to with the sure knowledge that they will not betray your trust. People you don’t need an appointment with to talk to or visit. People you can call anytime. People who praise, not criticize your success, support you through good and bad times, have confidence in you, and encourage you to reach for the stars. You can spend hours with them and time flies by as if it were mere minutes, even seconds. Instead of sapping you of energy, they rejuvenate and fill you with happiness.
Of course, these are just a few of the criteria for close friends. The list goes on and on. I understand I generalize to a degree. What works for me might not work for someone else. Some people might be more or less forgiving; others might be able to tolerate more bullshit and still consider someone a close friend.
Whatever, your criteria, you know what works for you.
How many close, inner circle friends do you have? Have you ever stopped to ask yourself how many close friends your friends have? Have you ever asked them? The answer might surprise you. To some of my close friends, I’ve asked, “This isn’t a competition or anything but how many really close friends do you have?” I’ve received answers such as, “One… and it’s you.” This from a close friend whom I considered to have a vast social circle.
Another response, “I’m lucky I can count them on one hand.”
Once I was bold enough to ask an acquaintance this question. The answer, sad but true, “I don’t have any friends unless you count family. And I don’t.”
I told you that to tell you this. Maybe it’s time we stepped out of the shell of imperfection and misconception and ventured out in the world to try and make a new friend or two. Whether we’re willing to admit it or not, we all need social contact, love and companionship.
I once mistakenly thought I could survive on the cherished friendship of Robbie the Rabbit and Alvin the Chipmunk. Don’t get me wrong, their social skills are impeccable and they would never let me down. But after some time, we solved all the world’s problems and I realized it was time to broaden my horizons and make friends with a few human beings on Prince Edward Island. I’m managing okay, but I still have some work to do. After all, we can never have too many friends, at least not of the inner circle variety.
That’s why I’m declaring the week of August 9th to August 16tth (that’s tomorrow, folks) International Make a Friend Week. So step out of the box of solitude, reservation and self-doubt. Step out of your comfort zone. Call up an acquaintance, someone you’ve always wanted to get to know better and start building a friendship. Revive an old friendship, one that perhaps has become extinct with the ravages of time. Or, put yourself in social situations where you can meet more people, make new friends. I’m sure you’ll be glad you did.
You might be wondering who died and made me God, granting me the power and authority to suddenly declare it International Make a Friend Week. No one did. Hey, I’m just trying to help you guys out; maybe even trying to help myself out.
Whatever you might think about all your worldly possessions—your beautiful car, your beautiful house and all your beautiful toys, they do not measure up to the value of true friendship. As Thomas Aquinas once said, “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”
So go on, give it a try. Pay it forward. Maybe it’ll catch on.