Friends and acquaintances....
I’ve been musing on the way we interact with other human beings, all through our lives. Of all the relationships we have, those that involve love (and especially, romantic love) are praised to the skies in all our cultures and literature, and held in high esteem.
But then, do other relationships not have their own value? We certainly cannot love every human being that we meet. Several are people whom we might respect very much, but whom we hold at a distance because of that very respect. When I feel that someone’s maturity level is way beyond mine, I do not interact on an equal level with that person.
Then there are the many people one meets in various situations. Then our lives diverge, and it’s impossible for us to have the level of contact with them that we’d like. However, especially with social media today, we are able to keep in sporadic touch with them. We may not be close to them, but there is the comforting feeling that they are only a phone call or an email away..or a message on a social media site.
There are also the friendships that have waned a little because of lives taking different paths. I have several young friends whose horizons have broadened considerably as they went to educational institutions. Friendship has become more of acquaintanceship, but the basic warmth remains.
Acquaintanceships are, to me, every bit as valuable as friendships. A relationship of romantic love is something one may form (er, unless one is a movie star!) only once or twice in one’s life. One’s closest friends, too, are people that one can count on one’s fingers. But the many acquaintances-verging-on-friends, that one shares interests and time with…these are so necessary to life. Mutual respect and affection, which may not extend to daily sharing of each others’ lives…to me, this is the concrete that forms the framework, in which the bricks of my friendships are set.
To me, therefore, no acquaintance is “mere”. The gentleman, for example, who met me in a park in St.Louis some time ago, and out of the blue, gifted me two murder mysteries, with a birdwatching angle, by a British author, is someone I may never see again, but he’s someone I may not forget for a long time.
Here’s to acquaintances. They may have waned from friendship; they may have been chance encounters; they may ripen into friendship (it’s happened so many times!); one of them may (hopefully) even become the love of one’s life!…but my acquaintances are very dear to me, as dear and precious as those whom I call my dear friends.