…on realism and friendship

I ponder the truth of the matter: as we grow older, the number of our friends decreases: it is inversely proportional to our ages. One need only take to social media to behold numberless memes extolling this condition. Many of us readily embrace this; we are dissimilar to Pliny the Younger, whom Peachin reported was known to have exaggerated the number of his friends (this is a story for another day!).

Emerson’s words in Prudence and Nominalist and Realist apply as much to the circumstance of pure friendship as do those in the essay of the same name.

And thus does our cultivation prescribe the worth and quality of our associations; and thus do we seek virtues. Pursue not friendship in haste; it is unattainable, and souls cannot commune with souls that are not equally ripe. This “quick fix” shatters all illusion of perfection; the chances of any longevity are infinitesimal.

“If you believe in the soul, do not clutch at sensual sweetness before it is ripe on the slow tree of cause and effect. It is vinegar to the eyes to deal with men of loose and imperfect perception.”

~ Prudence

“The laws of friendship are austere and eternal, of one web with the laws of nature and of morals. But we have aimed at a swift and petty benefit, to suck a sudden sweetness. We snatch at the slowest fruit in the whole garden of God, which many summers and many winters must ripen. We seek our friend not sacredly, but with an adulterate passion which would appropriate him to ourselves. In vain. We are armed all over with subtle antagonisms, which, as soon as we meet, begin to play, and translate all poetry into stale prose.”

~ Friendship

No person can realistically achieve supremacy; what Emerson called symmetry; the deception is a manifestation of expectations. Upon encountering a person deemed flawless by virtue of a reputable gift or attribute, I am inevitably disappointed upon discovering that the performance does not live up to the promise.

“All persons exist to society by some shining trait of beauty or utility, which they have. We borrow the proportions of the man from that one fine feature, and finish the portrait symmetrically; which is false; for the rest of his body is small or deformed.”

~ Nominalist and Realist

How many of us enter into friendships thus? How many of us heed reports of good imparted by others or receive an individual wholly based upon one favourable attribute visible on the surface? And upon reflection, how many of these associations endure?

6 thoughts on “…on realism and friendship

  1. I’ve always seen relationships as something that at times may not last, simply because they weren’t meant to last. That that person came into your life to get you through a certain time, and that while you may then drift apart it doesn’t lessen the significance of that relationship. Then again I was just telling someone today how all my actually good friends who have really been there for me over the years, they’re all in different states. The fallacy of moving so much or them moving so much, and so it’s rare for me to actually be within visiting distance of any friend. But those that are far away are still there for me to talk to when I need them, and I do the same for them. I think real friendship isn’t about someone saying oh this person is awesome you should like them too. I swear every time someone thinks they know someone I should get along great with, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be someone I can’t get along with at all.

    I will say, those who are my friends and have stuck by me are extremely special people, because they accept me for who I am. I have a hard time getting along with people. I’m very blunt and don’t understand people at all. Apparently my honesty is often perceived as being very rude. My friends spend most of their time having to explain my actions to others. I feel bad about it, because even after all this time I don’t understand what I’m doing that’s so wrong. Even when they try to explain it to me. I still can’t believe that no matter where I go somehow that one person who actually gets me somehow finds me and in a way takes care of me while I’m there.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I saw this blog entry in March I couldn’t help but share it but I wanted to respond to your brilliance in this forum and proceeded to gather my thoughts. Unfortunately, one month and several days have gone by, and what I thought was so difficult to express I find my words flowing without hesitation. We grow up hearing our parents express their own opinions about the subject and see the significance they place on the relationships with their friends. Through trial and error, we go through life learning very valuable lessons with our interactions with people. Some of those experiences are delightful yet some can be heartbreaking. Regardless, we learn who we can trust and quickly know whose presence elevate us to a better place. I have always considered my friends as family. This special soul connection is so strong and years can go by without knowing their whereabouts and when we finally reconnect, we pick up where we left off for time is not an issue. Who knew in June 1979 my friend that I would be responding to your lovely words in May 2018! Thank you for your friendship and know that you will ALWAYS be considered a member of my family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beautifully articulated, Doreen!

      “You are running to seek your friend. Let your feet run, but your mind need not. If you do not find him, will you not acquiesce that it is best you should not find him? for there is a power, which, as it is in you, is in him also, and could therefore very well bring you together,…”

      Yes! This is us. From 1979 to now xx


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s