Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival . ~ C.S. Lewis

Despite what Simon & Garfunkel once sang, we are neither rocks, nor islands, as many of us (especially those drawn to live in the metropolis that is New York!) might want to be. The irony of course is that the very nature of being human means we are part of a greater whole and must interact with other human beings on many levels. Yet a sense of connection and belonging doesn’t always come from the family, tribe or culture we are born into so we must create that connection authentically, first within ourselves and then with others.

Relationships are one of the most difficult areas for us homo sapiens to navigate, and they are the biggest source of our pleasure as well as our pain.  The past three years or so we have had an advanced course in them; I for one can say as difficult as it’s been, have learned some new and deeper versions of lessons I know will serve me well in the future, all of which culminated in a super-summer intensive, with this harvest season reaping the wisdom culled from that journey.

Some of those nuggets include: finding the balance between losing ourselves/being co-dependent versus isolating and becoming a monk (or a psychopath); having boundaries and not taking on/feeling responsible for another’s emotional or other type of well-being; nurturing yourself, no one can know exactly what you need but you; seeing people and relationships as they really are, not how you’d like them to be. And regarding those close/intimate relationships that are more difficult or challenging, keep in mind that that person – whether parent, boss, spouse, sibling, lover, friend, child – is just the actor playing a role in a scenario you have created in order to heal and grow.

Lastly, the people you choose to allow into your life – friends/boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/partner- should meet certain criteria. The word ‘friend’ especially has been so diluted and watered down with the use of Facebook and social media you need to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff and discern the Apples and Oranges.

The foundation of a relationship with anyone deserving of your time and energy must include understanding, appreciation and respect. You should be able to check off at least two of these to be considered a friend, and if you are fortunate to have someone in your life who truly understands, appreciates and respects you, then you are very, very lucky and should treasure and honor that relationship for the special gem that it is.

The bottom line is, You Gotta Have Friends, and making time for friendships and your most important relationships is not a luxury but a necessity. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to -day busyness of life, but we need to discipline ourselves to create space for connecting with the people who love and accept us, who know and understand us, with whom we share interests and history, and have grown together, not apart.

(Today’s PGG was originally posted on October 2, 2012)

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