What is Friendship?

In the early morning I went out amidst the fresh cool air of the dawn. The sun had just come over the skyline and was shining low over the forest scarcely touching the trees with its warm rays. The dewdrops on the grass were twinkling playfully in my eyes. Birds were warbling. The forest was slowly awaking. The coolness was enveloping me and the sunbeams were caressing me softly with their warmth. What is friendship? Nobody can answer this question because for each man the reply is different. As for me it is like the sun, like the warm sunbeams that shine on the nature. It gives our life vitality and energy. It is the source of variety of things – different benefits, either material or not, pleasant spending of time, sympathy and understanding in a difficult moment. And just like the sun, which can’t give only light or only warmth, the true friendship, if it is really true, gives all that together. But in contrast to the sun, which gives us its energy without anything in return, friendship can’t be only a source of benefits. Every single friend is like a sun here, in the world of friendship, and must give his light and warmth to his friends just as he gets “light” and “warmth” from them. In this world a sun shines very rarely without other suns shining for it. Very rarely someone happens to be a friend without you being one for him. Without this so essential mutuality friendship cannot exist. As it is in the nature, the law of conservation of energy is also in force here – you can get one kind of things from your friends and give them other but you must give as much as you get. Only then friendship can exist without becoming means of using and exploitation. Each man has different taste about this – some have a lot of friends and like getting much as well as giving much, while others, on the contrary, don’t like the other people to interfere in their life and don’t like to give but don’t like to get anything either. And if this balance is upset, sooner or later someone will find out that the friendship is not actually a true friendship but only a pursuit of personal benefits and selfish interests. Towards the sun people take different views – some like the summer and the sea, like to be enveloped by the warmth and the light of sunbeams. There are also ones who like the winter with its cold, gloomy and cloudy days. So it is with friends, too. Some people like constantly to be surrounded by them and if they are alone they don’t feel well. Others prefer living more isolated and are annoyed by the many friends, who, according to them, only complicate their life. This sometimes depends on us but in human life there are periods, which we not always like. One day can be sunny, another – rainy and we can do nothing. Sometimes it is so with friendship, which we cannot always control. At one moment we seem to have a lot of friends and just at the next they have already vanished without even a trace. If clouds gather over you sunbeams one by one fade away, friends one by one fall and drift away from you. But even in the most desperate situation there is one sunbeam, which has slipped somehow through the clouds – one friend ready to help you. Just at this moment you can distinguish the genuine sunbeams, for which no barriers exist, from the false ones. Just then you can tell the difference between true friends, for whom your state at the moment is of no importance, and those ones, who only pretend to be true as long as they have any benefit from that. And as soon as the clouds clear away, your old “friends” are once again by you; once again they know you and call you their friend. But how much the word “friend” is proper here? What is friendship? Some regard it as means for pleasant spending of time, others think it is a source of mutual benefits; still others consider it to be something stupid and unnecessary. That is so probably because the true friendship can be found very rarely. But what is it? Something invisible, physically intangible, which arises between two people, who sometimes have nothing in common. And the result is always the same – the appearance of one new sun, which will shine on the world of friendship with its warm rays. The first dawn is born in one new, undiscovered by now, part of this world becoming reality with the first sunrise brought by the rays of the sun. And what is there? Something new, unknown and obscure, perhaps even completely unknowable, like the true friendship. © Svetozar Ilchev, 2001