“Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.” — Aristotle
Our everyday lives, often full of the mundane, and punctuated by moments of joy and sorrow, can sometimes lead us to become somewhat indifferent to the relentless changes that occur as a matter of course, weakening our awareness of things extraordinary. Thankfully, throughout these relentless periods of change, we are blessed occasionally by the arrival of special people, who make all the periods in between worth the wait. My conscious awareness of an acute sensitivity to an elusive, yet profound intellectual and emotional connection to such spirits, and of an inner stirring that transcends the boundaries of conventional interactions between myself and these other special people, occurs so infrequently, that when they do occur, it generally results in extraordinary events, which often overwhelm me in ways that make managing the events especially difficult.
“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.” — Jim Morrison
With all my heart, I have tried to accept the circumstances of my life, and to continue to move through the phenomenal world, mindful of its impermanence. And yet, somehow, I have not been able to shake the awareness of something keenly out-of-sync with the flow of events as they unfold at times. Throughout my life, in rare moments of surprise and delight, my inner world has been abruptly and profoundly disturbed by the arrival of particular kindred spirits, and although I willingly and knowingly embraced the path at that time, it often resulted in confusion and disharmony. Reflecting on these events afterwards, it seems I did so without fully comprehending the scope of the consequences of that embrace. Over time, I gained some perspective, and with persistence, came to be more discerning about my attention to such events.
“A true friend unbosoms freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably” — William Penn
We often rush to describe friendship solely in terms of camaraderie and faithful allegiance to another person in a very particular way, and generally most of us can agree that a friend is someone with whom we feel these sentiments, but there is such a wide range of what might be properly described as friendship, that such a narrow definition seems more like a limitation than a proper description. The quote above points to a greater expansion of our definition of what friendship can entail, and in my experience, those individuals with whom I felt a special kinship, or a greater-than-usual emotional connection, as friends, often became much more than simply friends, even though the boundaries of our modern expectations of what constitutes friendship tend to limit what is possible in such relationships. Despite an increased freedom of choice today, and a much greater range of abilities to communicate with each other, we still seem to cling to the notion that friendship only means “liking” someone, when in fact, a much deeper and more profoundly affectionate connection between friends is not only possible, but desirable.
Our relationships generally are well-defined and unambiguous by their very nature, but occasionally we encounter particular spirits in the world who do not fit very well into any of these well-established roles. A few years ago, I attended a lecture at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia by Beatrice Bruteau, who wrote “The Creation of a Self-Creating World,” in which she gave a description of friendship, that goes beyond mere external circumstances:
“If there is strong attraction to the other as a person, an interesting thing happens. One is not satisfied with merely being intimate with the descriptive reality of the other. One wants to be close to the interior of the other, to feel the other on the inside as the other feels. One yearns to be with the other, not as the other appears to be, but as the other really is from the other’s profound sense of self.”
It may well be that our initial contact with such extraordinary connections between people, in spite of the external circumstances, results in an awareness of a commonality which transcends our common notions of friendship. What better way to illustrate the importance of our interior worlds, than to become aware of our connection to such spirits, which may defy all external considerations. The compelling draw to such individuals may be experienced in their presence as well as in their absence physically, and while our physical presence is generally expected to generate an immediate response to a kindred spirit, the fascinating experience of immediate recognition or attraction to others we encounter can occur through a combination of elements, and point to a much greater degree of connection between all of us, that cannot be explained simply by genetics and previous experience.