“Can you imagine us years from today
Sharing a park bench quietly
How terribly strange to be seventy”
–Simon and Garfunkel, “Old Friends”
As a young girl growing up on the south side of Chicago, I remember going out to do errands and seeing the old women with their charming, pancake-shaped hats and their white gloves, walking arm and arm to Nachman’s pastry shop, heads bent and almost touching, sharing confidences. Today, I live in Boston, and when I go to the North End, I see the old men laughing and talking, sharing a game of checkers on the permanent checkerboards set up in the park. When I think of them, I often wonder, what kept their friendships strong for so many years?
What is your history of having a best friend or friends, or of being a best friend? Robert Wicks, in his book “Bounce: Living the Resilient Life,” gives us four types of “best” friends, each of whom is best at serving a unique function in the connections of our lives. See if any/all of these fit some of your friendships:
1. The Prophet: Prompts us to be honest, calls us on the places we are misguided, holds our feet to the fire. Isn’t afraid to tell us what others won’t.
2. The Cheerleader: Balances the role of the prophet with unconditional love, acceptance, and joy. Helps us try our crazy ideas. Believes in us.
3. The Harasser (I wouldn’t use this word, but I know what he means): The friend who can help us laugh at the craziness of the human condition, and keeps us from being too serious about ourselves or others.
4. Guides: The ones who listen, draw out, help us, through their quiet presence, to uncover things we didn’t even know we had inside: the “voices” that may make us hesitant, fearful, or stubborn.
I’ve been lucky enough to have all of these kinds of friends. Some are easier than others; all have helped me to grow and deepen my capacity to connect.
What’s your personal history of friendship? What have you learned about the meaning of “best” friends over the years? Share if you like, and we’ll post on future blogs…
If you’d like to explore this subject further, here’s a list of eight great movies about friendships between friends, male and female, and one gem about friendships between couples (please write in with your own):
8 Great Male Friendship Movies:
1. “Five Friends” documentary
2. “Windtalkers” — friendships between Navajo code-talker friends
3. “Brian’s Song”
4. “Longtime Companion”
6. “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”
7. “The Full Monty”
8. “Stand by Me”
8 Great Female Friendship Movies
2. “Thelma and Louise”
3. “Muriel’s Wedding”
4. “Waiting to Exhale”
5. “Mystic Pizza”
6. “Where the Heart Is”
7. “Strangers in Good Company”
8. “Fried Green Tomatoes”
1 Great Movie About Couples’ Friendships
“Another Year” by Mike Leigh
Enjoy! And let us know your favorites!