Friends are easy, tough, strong and weak. They demand so much of us and we of them. We make friends almost as early as we say ‘Mama,’ ‘Dada,’ we link hands when we are just about old enough to reach out and touch someone other than our parents. Even when we are too young to know the word for friends, they are there for us.
As we grow older, we learn the meaning of friends and friendship. We depend on them to celebrate and reaffirm the value of our successes, making them larger than they are because we are not alone in marking the moment. They are with us when we are down, when our first boyfriend dumps us for someone else or another team beats us in sports. They are there. And that’s the important, the most valuable, critical and crucial thing about friends. They are there for us.
Steve Jobs might have led a happier life if he had friends. Like others who were incredibly successful in their careers and changed the world with their inventions and ideas, instead of cajoling, prodding, urging people to work 100-hour weeks to develop a product or service that could change the way the world works, if they had just had a friend, their lives might have turned out differently. They might have been less productive – or more – they would have been different.
There is nothing to compare to a friend.
Although we didn’t need scientists and researchers to tell us this, they did. Recent studies by Harvard and other medical schools have proved that friendship is as important to our overall health as eating properly and exercising. On the Liveabout website, the reference to friends is straightforward. “The people we bring into our lives as friends will show us how to forgive, laugh, and make conversation. The basic components of any relationship, from our marriage to our coworkers, are all founded in friendship. We learn how to interact with people because of our friends, even the ones that are opposite from us or share a different worldview.”
And that’s where the recognition of the importance of friendship comes in.
This past weekend, my oldest, dearest friend came to Nassau. She is a Trump supporter. I think the man is mad, egotistical and bordering on dangerous. She is a former flight attendant with a great flair for the arts. I was a political science major with equal credits in philosophy and sociology and taught economics while in graduate school before turning back to journalism full-time. We could not have been more different – or more alike. We went to high school together, to college. We were connected by a friendship that was founded in our roots more than 50 years ago and that is what counts. I will forgive her voting for Trump in 2020, she will forgive me for not, but the connection during a Sunday afternoon conversation trumps any kind of political overtones.
True, deep down friendship overrides everyday headlines. Politics don’t matter. Religious differences dissipate. What really matters, in the end, is a link that says I know you, all the low and high points, the successes, the failures, the hopes and dreams, and no matter what I will be there to hold your hand just as I was when we were children.
It is not surprising that friends rank among the highest category of what makes us happy. Money buys things. Friends seal hearts. The friends we made early in life might not be the people we would gravitate toward now if our world views and our interests were distinctly different, but friendships with history are incomparable. They deserve nurturing. Truth be told, most of us probably spend more time and effort maintaining our cars than we do our friendships. If your mind runs across an old friend today, pick up the phone and do the old-fashioned thing, call and say, hello, I was just thinking about you.
Whoever declared the yellow elder the national tree of The Bahamas must have had an instinct, the ability of a seer to know what they would look like this year. Never has the yellow been brighter, the blooms more prolific, the tree more glorious in the joy it spreads, especially when it’s in someone else’s yard.
Why I’m a fan of The Word Game
While the rest of the world is into Game of Thrones, I am obsessed with the Game of Words. Okay, it is not a real game and there is no legitimate reason to capitalise the name, but for anyone who earns a living by the written or spoken word, there’s an unwritten, unspoken understanding. Choosing the exact right word is as essential as air itself to life and failure to contemplate whether to use frequent, for instance, instead of often in a sentence (there is a slight difference) or to speak in the first or third person or to choose between ‘relinquish’ or ‘give up hope’ is like a woodpecker forgetting it needs a tree.
The Game of Words, though fascinating, can be exhausting because it is never-ending which is both a good thing and a bad thing. Why is it that some words sound exactly like what they mean? Say scudding clouds and you can see fluffy grey-white forms quickly dancing across the sky. Take words like murderous, scandalous and scurrilous - they all sound evil. And then there are the annoying words that sound nothing at all like what they mean. Ennui. What is a word with such a romantic sensation doing to describe a state of boredom or why does enervate mean to lose energy, become lethargic or otherwise just plain deprivation of ambition when it sounds like it should be on the label of a power drink?
Words fascinate yet the best story can often be told in a very few. It comes down to selecting the most descriptive, active ones from among the 171,476 words that most authorities agree exist in the English language. By the way (or should it be, As an aside), we are informed that the average American uses one new word a day until middle age and then stops increasing his or her vocabulary which averages between 20,000 and 35,000 words. Which leaves me pondering how do these people figure out average?