I believe the community one is part of offers a healing power all of its own so naturally, I must talk about a part of that community, friends. My grandmother used to tell me that by the end of my life I would be able to count my true friends on one hand. She often said to me that I would know many, many folks throughout my life, and would care for each of them in different ways, but that true friendship was rare and to be treasured. I remember thinking that perhaps that might be true for her but that I would have so many friends that I would not be able to actually count them…ah, the naivety of a 14 year old.
Perhaps at the end of my journey I will ask myself who my friends are but for now I find myself asking the question, “what is friendship”? and even before I can answer that I find myself needing to define “what is a friend”?
Of course I am a little biased to define this from a female perspective but I would venture to say that the core of “friend” is the same for many people. On my journey to define “a friend” I ran across a really cool little posting by Paul Hersh and others in the forum of wordreference.com. He was working on a project that looked at the etymology of the word “friend” in various languages. I put a few of my most favorites here, ones that are very relevant to my own definition, but to see the whole post, here is the link: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=789897.
- Vriend (Dutch & Afrikaans) – Old English: freond, to love – In turn, “freond” comes from “fri”, which is Germanic for “to like, to love”, and which is also connected with the Norse goddess Frigg, the goddess of love.
- Sadeeq (Arabic) صديق, from Sadaqa صدق, to tell the truth. He is called so because a freind does two things: he tells you the truth and he believes what you say. i.e., between two friends is only truth (no lies).
- Caraid (Gaelic) – Irish, Old Irish cara, g. carat, *karant-; Old Irish verb carim, caraim, I love, Welsh caraf, amo, Breton quaret, amare.
- Arkadaş (Turkish) – someone that you can lean on (back to back)
- Bandu (Sinhalese) – Indic bandh – to tie
- Kaibigan (Tagalog) – the root word “ibig”, meaning “to love.” Putting “ka” before a rootword signifies a state of being, such as “kasama” (ka + sama “to go with”), literally “being someone to go with” or “companion”. Putting “an” or “han” after a word makes the focus of the sentence the direction of the action, such as “simba” (to worship) + “han” becomes “simbahan”, a church, literally, “a place to worship”. Thus, “kaibigan” could literally mean, “the state of being someone to share love with”!
- приятель (Russian) are derived from the Proto-Slavic verb prьja-ti (by the suffix –telь), derived from IE base *prei– to be fond of, hold dear (> friend), Sans. priyá- dear, desired
So what has “friend” come to mean to me at this point in my life? Well first off, it is someone I like, am fond of and hold dear. This is someone who tells me the truth as she or he sees it, who accepts me and who believes in me but does not judge me and expect me to live my life as she or he does. No lies traverse our bond, I can lean on this person and can be there to catch him or her if needed; there is definitely a tie, a bond. This person, as is said in Tagalog, is in a state of being someone to share love with me. Friendship, therefore, is the mutual exchange of all of these.
What could be more healing than to spend time with someone who holds me in such high esteem, tells me the truth, accepts me for who I am, does not judge me, is always there for me, is bonded to me, needs me and loves me? And, perhaps even more important, is someone I can, in return, love the same way. It is healing to me just to think of such a person.