Deep down I think we all possess a strong desire to connect, to interact, to be known.
In this era of digital connections, it may be hard to find a true friend, but we must ask ourselves how do we define one in the first place?
We can trick ourselves into thinking that our long list of online acquaintances are genuine friends. They might know our birthday, what we look like, what we had for dinner last night, or what we tweeted five minutes ago; but they don’t really know us.
Genuine friends are like family, they know our business. They know our fear. They can read how we really feel by a simple glance.
They know our heart, our core, our soul because we share everything
Writer Anais Nin wrote about the power of genuine friends:
“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.”
And isn’t that how it is? True friends open a new world within us. A new pair of eyes stares back at us in the mirror; our friends reflect a glimpse of who we really are and inspire us to become what we never thought we could be.
I met my friend Beth during my sophomore year at high school in Upstate New York. We didn’t have the same style, and we weren’t into the same things, but we clicked. She got me; she knew how to make me laugh, and how to listen.
A few months into the school year, my parents told my siblings and me that we were going to move to the West Coast. This was not something I wanted to hear. My new-found friend Beth heard about my up-coming move. She vowed to write and keep in touch.
Eventually moving day came. My family drove off, and finally, thousands of miles later, we arrived safely to our new home.
And then it started.
Letters from Beth began to arrive almost on a weekly basis. Her notes were filled with encouragement, funny stories, and love. Every time I had a rough day, she somehow knew and a new card would arrive or a phone call rang through.
Beth showed me what hope and strength were when i feel apart and fell all alone in my new surroundings. She opened my heart to see both value and beauty in parts of me I never thought were worth much at all. She changed my world by actively living out an example of selfless love, of true friendship. She inspired me, and in many ways freed me to be myself, to weather life’s storms with confidence.
Beth took my hand from afar and walked with me through both good and bad times. She was faithful to her word.
And you know what? Twenty years later, she still writes me.
Beth and I hardly knew each other when I left Upstate New York. Now, years later, through countless letters, phone conversations, and a few visits, we are genuine friends.
“It takes a long time to grow an old friend,” wrote John Leonard.
These words ring true! Genuine friendship is not an instant achievement, but a precious motion of continuous freedom. We cannot underestimate the value of time as it smooths out our character and acts as an artist’s brush.
Time paints an exquisite picture of the vibrant colors we express when we intimately share with sincerity the hearts of our friends.
Allie Oliver- Burns