If you were to ask me what I longed for in this world, the list would be short. I want deep love with my wife, deep connection with my sons. I want to be a man of faith, hope, and love. And I want friendship.
However, friendship is immensely difficult to describe, even harder to locate. You can’t build friendship like you’d build a shed or build a business. There’s no blueprint, and if there were, it wouldn’t be real friendship you’d have once you were done following the schematics. To find friendship, you have to be available—yes. You have to be unselfish—for sure. But like most good things, friendship arrives as a gift. We just have to have the eyes to see it when it comes along and the courage to step into it with both feet and a wide-open heart.
And for me, friendship isn’t all relational razzle-dazzle; it’s about kinship. Friendship means being yourself with others and encountering the pleasure of knowing that others are easily themselves with you. A friend is someone you don’t have to impress, someone who doesn’t require constant explanation or clarification.
I have an image for this kind of friendship. A few of us are sitting under a midnight sky, stars covering the expanse, miles from any freeway or neon lights. The fire’s popping, orange sparks dancing into the dark. We’re sitting around a circle, breathing crisp air, deep rhythms. Most of us are working our pipes, one lone rebel takes a drag from his American Spirit. We sit silently for long stretches, with only puffs of smoke and the crackle of fire to distract us.
Finally, someone shifts, signaling a readiness to speak. We lean forward, waiting for our friend to break the long quiet. Well, he says, peering into the fire. He exhales a long sigh, his shoulders release again. We all nod in agreement and then return to our conversation amid the silence.