Monday, April 21, 2008


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about friendships. The problem is that there are not enough good words to describe the range of positive relationships. The two most common are “friends” and “acquaintances.”

There are people I have known for many years, that I have a great deal of respect for, that are much for than acquaintances, but if I call them “friends,” what do I call the people that I see often and have many shared experiences and shared interests? Best friends or BFFL (best friend for life) seems sort of trite.

The basic building blocks of relationships are shared experiences and shared interests. Obviously, these vary a lot from relationship to relationship. My closest friends are the people I play music with. Music speaks directly to the heart, so playing music together builds strong relationships through shared experiences, shared passions, and strong emotions. Other musicians are also among my good friends because we have a common language and shared interest. I presume people who play golf together, go hunting together, or ride motorcycles together have similar relationships.

I once asked a fellow musician if she had any good friends that had never heard her play. Her answer was one that that I have not recovered from yet. She said, “I have chosen to give my life to making music, if a friend has never even bothered to come hear me play, they wouldn’t be much of a friend.”

Along those lines, if someone showed open disdain for the things you love, whether it is music, photography, or fishing, it would be hard to maintain much of a friendship. Two of my passions in life are music and photography. For me, photography is an individual pursuit, while music is a team sport. Therefore I don’t have as many photographer friends as musician friends. But if you have spent fifty years trying to make beautiful pictures and someone says to you, “How can you enjoy life with that thing (camera) in front of your face?” It becomes hard to call that person a friend. That doesn’t mean that we don’t occasionally hurt the people we are close to, often just trying to be funny, but we do have to know when to apologize and when to be sincere. The old movie said, “Love is never having to say you are sorry.” Actually, love is saying you are sorry a lot.

In a marriage relationship, we have to plan for shared experiences and shared interests. That is what makes a long term relationship possible. Other relationships are the same way. For friendships to be real, we have to share interests, share passions, and share experiences.