I once read about a British publication that offered a prize for the best definition of a friend. Many were suggested. These are a few of them:
"A friend is one who multiplies joys, divides grief, and whose honesty is inviolable."And here is the winning definition: "A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out."
"A friend is one who understands our silence."
"A friend is a volume of sympathy bound in cloth."
"A friend is a watch that beats true for all time and never runs down."
I'd like to be that kind of friend -- coming in when the whole world has gone out.
Not long ago I answered a telephone call from an old friend I'd not heard from for a long time.
"Hi, Steve," he said. "I just wanted to see how you're getting along."
For whatever reason, our paths had simply not crossed for months. It was good to talk with him. I wondered why we hadn't kept in touch better.
Toward the end of the conversation, he said, "If you need me in any way, I'll be happy to help out." And he meant it!
That call came at just the right time, as they so often do. I needed those words of encouragement. I hung up the phone feeling a satisfying lump of warmth in my chest.
And that day I re-learned something important about life: life is primarily about people -- not plans and schedules, not to-do lists and a million tasks left undone -- it's about people.
To love and to know that we are loved is the greatest happiness of existence. And happiness seems to be something that is in short supply for too many of us! My friend reminded me that it is never enough just to love; we must also express it. What good are our affectionate feelings toward others if we don't find ways to let them know?
George William Childs put it like this: "Do not keep the alabaster box of your love and friendship sealed up until your friends are dead. Fill their lives with sweetness. Speak approving, cheering words while their ears can hear them and while their hearts can be thrilled and made happier. The kind things you mean to say when they are gone, say before they go."
Happiness ... may be just a phone call away.
-- Steve Goodier
Image: flickr/Mario Mancuso