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Friendship A-Z

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Posted: 08 August 2016
Word Count: 1799
Summary: A few thoughts on the forming , keeping and valuing true friendship

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The theme given to my writing group was ' alphabet' . My thoughts turned to friendship so came up with this .... forgive repetition when read....
A-Z of FRIENDSHIP   by Brian Dodd 26/6/16
A for Availability . This must be an important component of any friendship. It’s been said so many times that ‘A friend in need is friend indeed’ Just being there for someone in the hour of need can often cement a lifelong friendship.
B stands for Bridges. Just as an engineer must construct a bridge piece by piece in order to cross a river, road or gorge in order to reach out to the other side so friendships can be built that  span age gaps, generations, race and many other differences. It can then bring two people together who otherwise might remain isolated or unreacheable. Building bridges of friendship means an investment of time, work and energy . It’s a process .
Communication. Communication is the key that unlocks the door to any relationship. Conversation, talking with each other,( note not at or to ) is the basis of a solidly built friendship. These days we have so many opportunities to communicate via social media, text messages as well as the usual telephone call.
D is for Desire. It seems obvious to say that we must desire friendship if we want to find friendship. It’s not something that just ‘happens’ . Some have said they don’t need friendship, they’re happy with their own company. This could well be true of course but what a blessing they could be to someone else, someone who feels lonely, shut in or in need of someone to talk with.
E is for Encouragement. A small word of encouragement can have a great effect. The writer of Ecclesiastes says, ‘Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.: If either falls down one can lift up the other, But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up’. Has your friend embarked on a new project, a new career, a new direction? They may glad of a word of encouragement.
F Stands for Forgiveness. This is a tough one. When we have been hurt or let down by someone we considered a friend it can be hard if not impossible to put it right. Whether we’re the offended or the offender we often look to the other person to make the first move, to change his /her attitude. Although we cannot forget, it’s good to forgive . Nelson Mandela famously said on his release from prison “ If I cannot forgive those who have kept me locked up all these years then I myself will remain in prison .”
G is for Generosity. When we give our time, our energy or attention and have a giving attitude to a person it often breaks down barriers, is disarming and can lead to friendship or strengthen one already initiated.
H is for Hobbies. Often an easy way to form friendship is to share interests or hobbies with other likeminded people. Meeting together as individuals or in groups , as we do in U3A for instance, to pursue a common passion for things such as writing, photography, walking or playing sport with someone can often be the springboard to forming friendships.
I stands for Integrity. I’ve always believed ‘honesty is the best policy’. If we make a promise to do something for another then it is right to keep it. Have we ever borrowed garden tools, books or even money? Then it’s right and proper we give these back. Have we broken or lost something belonging to another? Do we own up or shut up ?Are we asked for our honest opinion? That’s a difficult one isn’t it and sometimes needs some discretion. After all if a family member or good friend asked you about their new car or their new hairstyle , what do we say? Telling them bluntly what we actually think may not ‘win friends and influence people’ !
J is for Jovial. If a person is jovial or good-natured it puts the other person at ease . I don’t always find this easy but if we can sometimes laugh with others and sometimes laugh at ourselves, it can quickly break down barriers.
K of course is for Kindness. A small act of kindness can go a long way. I suppose we’ve all watched romantic films where the chap bends down to pick up and return an item inadvertently dropped by a young ( usually attractive) female at an airport or checkout . This is the initial contact that by the end of the film leads inevitably to a love relationship. But cannot  a small almost insignificant but thoughtful action  initiate a friendship ? ...visiting a 'shut in' neighbour, running an errand, doing a small gardening job for someone ......
L stands for Listen. It’s often been said that God gave us 2 ears but one mouth . I take that to signify that we should be good listeners before we have something to say ! Spending time with a person and simply listening to their problems, heartaches, fears, as well as their successes and joys can help to consolidate friendship and show genuine interest in that person.
M: Stands for  ‘Makes a Difference’ !   Friendship can and does make a difference. Before we can ' make a difference' we must Make an effort.
N:  Need. Friendship can meet a need in another person’s life and in so doing meet a need in our own lives. ‘ no man is an island’ a quote by from John Donne , a 16th century English clergyman &poet, and one we are all familiar with.
O is for  Openness . Doesn’t mean we reveal all about ourselves, pour out all our trials and tribulations or share all our life story. This could easily bore the socks off people but rather, I believe, it means being a good listener as well as talker. Being willing to put aside an hour a week or just a few moments with someone can make the world of difference.
P:  Protection. True friendship protects another not just physically but also emotionally .We protect their feelings. Don’t talk about them or put them in a bad light in those unguarded moments when talking to others. Nothing could be more damaging.
Q Quietness: Periods of silence and quiet acceptance can be a good thing unless it’s taken to extremes and simply used as an excuse to be inattentive or show boredom. It rather gives space for a person to collect their thoughts or to ‘engage brain before opening mouth’
R Respect: In order to maintain good friendship there must be respect. Respect for the other person’s views whether or not we agree with them be they political, social or religious. That’s not to say that a healthy argument or discussion on ‘hot topics’ should never take place between friends but that ‘at the end of the day’ we do not take offence and respect the friend’s position.
S for Sensitivity: I, for one , wish I had this quality in bucketloads but sadly know it’s often lacking.Do I talk about my children all the time with someone who cannot have children ? Do I recognise when my wife or partner is tired and just needs a rest or helping hand? Do I show off my new car to someone we know can’t afford one?
T for Trust: When we put our faith in someone, we trust them, we believe the best of them, give responsibility to them. Trust is the cement between the bricks when building that bridge of friendship. We believe that a person will keep his/her word when a promise has been made by someone we trust.
U: Unconditional. We must try not to put constraints or conditions on a friendship if it’s to work. “ If only you turned up on time” “ If only you stopped smoking” “ If only you talked more “ “ If only you talked less !!” Substitute your own terms and conditions. Are they real barriers to friendship or just something that just challenges my patience or my own ideas ?
V: Value. How much do we value a friend? Good friendship is invaluable. How can we show that we value someone ?
W for Write. When meeting up is almost impossible , perhaps because of distance or because of infirmity, then why not write. In this day and age it may not mean writing a letter. It’s so easy to write an email and communicate instantly . We may use our phones to send a text message. Personally I quite mourn the loss of a handwritten letter or even a postcard sent from a holiday. Is this already ‘out of fashion?’
X represents a kiss, not necessarily given literally but maybe as a symbol of warmth added to the end of a text message. Of course this depends on the closeness and nature of the relationship. If it was added to a letter from my doctor or bank manager I might get a little worried In many cultures a kiss on the cheek is normal. How comfortable are we with this ?   In marriage vows we say ‘ for better or for worse’, ‘in sickness and in health.., Few would find this easy to keep, especially the ‘worse’ bit ! In my experience we soon discover one another’s faults & foibles but love anyway ! so it is with friendship. Jesus taught to ‘love your neighbour..’ referring to all we rub shoulders with ... easier said than done though . As Charlie Brown famously      said, “ I love the whole world . Its just my neighbour I cant stand” Elbert Green Hubbard was an American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher who once said,
  1. “A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”
Y: Yourself. Be yourself. Who else can I be? I hear you say. True. But sometimes it’s possible to want to make an impression with colleagues or friends. Be someone you’re not. Relax. Be yourself.
Z is for Zeal “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm” so said Ralph Waldo Emerson a 19th century American poet. Perhaps zeal is too strong a word for most of us. I suppose it depends on the level of friendship we want and whether that feeling is reciprocated. Yet if a friendship is to grow and be meaningful it must surely mean commitment or attention. A fruitful tree needs tending. A fruitful friendship needs cultivating.......
and finally.....
So now this list is over,
A to Z comes to an end
Just apply these  principles
And you WILL have a friend !

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Comments by other Members

AlanRain at 12:31 on 14 August 2016  Report this post
But, could you work these aspirations into a short story?
Encouragement needs a 'be' in the last sentence.
The formatting, punctuation, and grammar is weak in the latter part of X.
'Famously' as used more than once here, may be considered condescending if the reader hasn't heard of the speech.

Bazz at 15:35 on 18 August 2016  Report this post
Hi Brian, welcome to the group :)
There's an interesting essay here about all that goes into friendship, and there are some neat obersvations and thoughtful quotes (love the Mandela one) I'm sure there's a way you could construct a narrative out of it as well, if you'd like.
I think X is one of the more interesting entries, it takes on an almost stream of conscious flow, perhaps if the whole piece were like this, it would take on a narrative, revealing more about the character dissecting and over analysing the friendships in his life.
Of course it works as it is, as a gentle meditation, but you could develop this into something more. The refrains could build up into something more revealing, perhaps a reveal of a more conflicted uncertain psyche... Just a thought :)  

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