By Tina Zita
Below is an adapted from the book, “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran that I’m fond of and often mentally reference as a guidepost for determining which of my friendships are healthy.
“And a youth said, “Speak to us of Friendship.” Your friend is your needs answered. He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving. And he is your board and your fireside. For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace. When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay.” And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart; for without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unclaimed. When you part from your friend, you grieve not; for that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain. And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit. For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught. And let your best be for your friend. If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also. For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill? Seek him always with hours to live. For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness. And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”
-Kahlil Gibran “The Prophet”
Isn’t that powerful? Are we seeking our friends with hours to kill? Are we relegating our friends down to obligatory pit stops, watching the time until we’ve decided we’ve spent enough with that particular person and can now move on to the next?
That isn’t friendship. Friendship seeks out friends with hours to live! I want to spend hours living alongside my friends. I want to be present and not act as an arbiter of time well spent. I’ve got to be honest, the dew of my morning as opposed to Kahlil’s, would be a rich mimosa shared alongside a true friend, refreshing my morning by the burst of laughter flowing from my belly and fits of giggling brought on by the familiarity of mind and spirit. I want to enjoy my friends without looking at my cell phone. As opposed to friends that nod across the table in agreement while never meeting my eyes, as they simultaneously swipe their finger along their cell phone keyboard conversing with others. Please don’t kill time with me — live in the moments we spend together! And don’t we all know and feel the difference?
When I look back on my life and friendships, I hope I’ve smiled enough to gain hearty laugh lines and that I’ve helped my friends live! When I’m not there to comfort my friends in person, I hope they will hear my familiar laughter in their mind and feel my caring spirit rush over their soul in times of difficultly. Smiles and laughter are the prevailing universal symbols of the world, always understood in any country and that’s also true of the penetrable warmth of a genuine friendship. The love of a true friend impounds your anxiety, brings you rest and is never fleeting. Love endures; its laughter sets you free and has the power to mend the wounds left by the journey of life. It is also true that a friend can fill a need, but is not expected to feel your emptiness. However, there are also those that empty your spirit after having spent time with them. As I move forward into 2015, I have decided I will no longer make attempts to nurture those types of relationships. I value the ebbs and flows of genuine long term relations, but I’ve lost interest in trying to win people over. I’ve squandered hours of my life attempting to make connections and breakthroughs with people that were never meant to be my friend to begin with.
One of my longest enduring friendships is headed toward the 20 year mark. We’ve been through a lot together and even in long absences, our souls have communicating in the silence. When a person reaches that level of friendship, you come to appreciate the dependability and gifts that time brings. There have been moments of my life in which I’ve required tremendous space and while she has gently nudged me — she’s also given me a swift verbal kick to the ass a time or two! Trust me, this is a mark of true friendship, a bona fide friend isn’t going to say, “Ay” all of the time.
I’ve felt her love cast forth in the moments she has stood quietly at a distance and waved me on as I stirred up dirt. But in the depths of my being, I’ve always felt her nearby, without speaking, her friendship calls to me saying, “When you’re ready, collapse into my knowing acceptance, where you’ll be received without question and we’ll laugh the hell out of this thing that has kept you away!” The lines unspoken between us could form poems to rival the best poets and our nights of youthful debauchery could make a wild rock star blush! You know that old saying, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?” Well, I’ve determined it was two long enduring friends living fully in the moment that must have first uttered that line.