I have many things to complain about, but I also have many more to be thankful for. I have been blessed with true friends. Friends who help carry me forward during the toughest of times, just by knowing that they are there.
It is said that you can count your true friends on one hand. I find this to be true for me. Even in the age of Facebook, where we have friendship lists that often measure in the hundreds, sometimes even in the thousands. And even I have a friendship list of 644. How does this adhere to my concept of friends?
I think it was Thomas Moore who once said: "I have many acquaintances, but very few friends." - a distinction which Facebook once completely ignored, serving to belittle relationships rather than mirror reality. Until one day when Facebook decided to make amends, allowing us to differentiate between friends, close friends and acquaintances. And by doing so, our Facebook access to our closer friends increased considerably.
"Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend."
What defines a true friend? Is there some secret formula? True friends do not have agendas. If they did, we'd all be in trouble. For a true friend knows many of our darkest secrets. They are our confessor, but do not carry judgement. They could write our explosive biography, but would do so only with our permission, before or after we die.
“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.”
~ Richard Bach
I come from a small Canadian family, and try to return each year during the holiday season to visit my mother, sister, and two close friends. These two friends are family also, for although we grew up under different roofs, we also shared each other's homes. And despite the distance and years that passed without seeing each other, each time we meet, we carry on as if no time has passed since we saw each other last. For our respect and joy in each other's lives surpasses all else.
I know that many families become increasingly dysfunctional over time, something that is magnified especially during holiday season. Maybe my family is too small to be dysfunctional, or I am not in Canada enough days of the year, but we seem to get on quite well. Not only that, but each visit is of great importance to all of us.
With family, as with friends, I have been extremely fortunate. And not just with my Canadian family, but with my Israeli family as well. My Israeli family consists of my Israeli born wife and three children (all born in Israel on a kibbutz), and my in-laws. I know that many people (perhaps most), don't get on well with their in-laws. But, despite my coming from a different background, language and culture, I was accepted with open arms by Adva's parents. My test wasn't the baggage that I brought with me, but how I treated their daughter. Which I was made well aware of when my mother-in-law casually informed me that she kept an Uzi sub-machine gun under her bed and knew how to use it (she had been an officer in the Palmach and not someone to mess around with). Fortunately she never found reason to use it, or thought that Adva could do worse. I have always gotten on well with my brother and sisters-in-law also. My brother-in-law hosts family and extended family each major holiday at his house on the kibbutz. Nothing dysfunctional there, either, unless you count my slipping out after the dinner festivities to check my email at my father-in-law's house.
Family and friends cannot really be measured in numbers, defined by blood relations, or categorized by time and place. They are the people who touch our inner core, for whom we would fly across continents, make our way up from the desert by train to Molly Blooms, meet for coffee or wine after a hard day's work, or join in extended noisy family holiday celebrations. In many ways my life has turned upside down, but friends and family stay with me, and keep me from fading away.