What is friendship?
A friendship is an incredibly valuable and beautiful thing, and unfortunately, is also often extremely fragile.
They are formed and built up over time, becoming more complex, with layers of shared experiences and common interests, all of which are impossible to replace in a short time.
However, all too many friendships are wasted by being taken for granted or ignored, and many relationships which have the potential to become friendships will wither and fade just because one of those involved never made the effort to develop it.
Friendships very rarely just happen by themselves, they need to be worked on and developed. A friendship is the same as a beautiful garden, and requires the same level of investment.
It needs seeds to be sown in prepared grounds, it needs to be nurtured and supported while it becomes established, and it needs to be fed and watered to help and sustain it during its life.
The better the ongoing care, the better chance it has of growing and developing into a thing of beauty.
As children, much of this just happens as we are thrown together in our schools. Constant close contact and having few developed habits usually means that friendships develop more by accident than anything else.
However, as we get older, we are no longer in such close proximity for so much of the time, we have developed more personal habits and interests, and we have less available free time, so that we are more choosy about who we want to share our time with.
Hence, a potential friendship must be courted more carefully, investing effort in forming the bond, usually in the form of time and companionship.
Making the time to share a cup of coffee and a chat, inviting them to join you at a show or sporting event, talking to them on the phone, even offering occasional small, thoughtful, gifts for their birthday or another significant anniversary.
All of these things help the friendship to develop, and enjoyable experiences to be shared.
Once the initial relationship has been formed, it still needs to be supported to help it to continue.
Ongoing contact and shared life experiences help to reinforce that bond, and without this, the friendship will slowly fade and wither away.
One of the great difficulties is that as people get older, their interests and life situations change, and often their existing friends do not share the same interests any more.
This is often the case as people marry and have families while their friends are still single. The differing focus of interests will often put those friendships under strain, requiring even greater effort to keep the relationship current and relevant for both people.
The same issues occur as people move between towns and countries during their lives, leaving their friends behind them.
As the ability to stay in touch becomes harder, the friendship will often suffer, and without contact, will often finally fade away completely.
It is at these times that we need to make a more conscious decision as to which of our friendships are really important to us, and decide how much effort we are willing to make to ensure the survival of that relationship.
Luckily, technology has helped to make it easier to stay in touch. Cell phones, text messaging, e-mail, web cameras, all of these things make it possible to contact a friend in another part of the world, to talk to them, and stay in touch.
Friendships are too valuable to just be ignored, and left to die. Call your friends today, send them an email or text message, brighten their day by reminding them that they are still important to you, and that they are still your friend.