Humans have always sought friends. Thomas Aquinas, a philosopher and theologian, claimed, “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” Wow, nothing? Wealth, possessions, fun, excitement, prestige, success — friendship is more important than all things? What is it about friendship that could make it so powerful in our lives?
According to the Roman philosopher Seneca, “One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” This aspect of friendship makes great sense to me. Like everyone else, I want to be known and accepted for all I am. Similarly, Jim Morrison, of the rock band The Doors, insisted that “a friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.” Just be yourself, we are told in popular culture, yet sometimes doing so is a scary proposition, but not with a friend who knows us, accepts us, and loves us. We are all looking for those bonds of friendship that help us navigate through this difficult life journey that we all travel on.
One of my favorite authors C.S. Lewis explained friendship as being “born at that moment when one man says to another: What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . . ” When we realize the there is another being similar to us, in feelings, thoughts, experiences, values, beliefs, in some aspect of life we are no longer an island alone but connected to someone or if we are truly fortunate, even several someones.
I feel so lucky in my own life to have many people, from the most casual acquaintance to the deepest intimate connection, that I can call friend; I appreciate and am grateful for every relationship. My friends have shared my darkest moments and my most glorious victories.
Even a simple dinner with friends sharing conversation and laughter is a wondrous boon that should never be taken for granted.
This week, I’m sharing more language exploring the positive, beneficial aspects of friendship in both song and idiom.
“True Colors” is a song first released in 1986 by Cyndi Lauper and I’ve loved is since then. This particular version is my new favorite, sung by Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick Singas for the 2016 movie, Trolls.
It’s a simple song, but actually rather profound as so many simple things are. There are a few idiomatic phrases worth discussion below that you can review as needed.
The eyes are often considered the window to the soul that convey emotion, and in this case, the emotion would be sadness.
Pam’s sad eyes always made me try to make her laugh to chase the sadness away.
Lose Sight of It All
The all here can refer really to anything in one’s life, all the education, all the people, all the meaning, basically all the everything, often due to an encountered obstacle or difficulty.
I have accomplished so much this semester, so despite the stress of midterms, I can’t lose sight of it all.
Feel So Small
While obviously feel small relates to size, it also means feeling a lack of quality or ability, a situation when you simply don’t feel good enough for the given task or situation.
Sometimes, I feel so small when I consider all I need to accomplish to a be successful writer.
All You Can Bear
To bear something means to handle it or accept it, so to be more than you can bear means to be more than you can handle at a given time; this often refers to handling things emotionally.
The pressure of balancing my school and work schedule is all I can bear; I simply don’t have time to date anyone right now.
This phrase is related to one’s actual identity as opposed to what is shown to the world at large. Sometimes, we show our best to others, or some people even lie about who they are or what they believe or do. When the truth of their personality or actions is revealed, this is said to be the true colors.
She seemed so nice when I met her but revealed her true colors when she tried to copy my final class essay.
Again, this phrase is rather obvious in that light shines through a window or the sun shines through the clouds for example, but in this situation, it is more like the true emotion or feeling is coming out through one’s actions or words.
In my classes, I try to let my concern and support for my students shine through demanding the writing assignments and grammar curriculum.
Move in the Same Circles
Social circles, work circles, extracurricular circles- circles are areas of influence or areas in which we spend time or work. So moving in the same circle just means coming from the same experience, background, social level, or lifestyle as another person. Thus, a family with a lawyer father and doctor mother whose children attend private schools and play rugby on the weekends is in one social, financial, extracurricular circle while a family with a factory-worker father and stay-at-home mother whose children attend public school and work on the weekends is in another circle. These two families don’t move in the same circles.
Friendships like that between Randi and I often develop between women moving in the same circles.
Hit It Off
To hit it off means that you immediately and effortlessly connect with a person or people. For example, when you meet someone and feel like you have known her forever and when you become instant friends, you two have hit it off.
Sometimes two people like Catherine and Tina really hit it off and become good friends.
Get Along Swimmingly
If you think about schools of fish swimming as individuals yet together in a group as one, this idiom makes perfect sense. When you get along swimmingly with someone, you are of a like mind, working well together, and accomplishing things as a seamless team.
My friend Mahnoosh and I get along swimmingly; we like so many of the same things and both really love tea!
Through Thick and Thin
This is a fun idiom! When things are going well, and we have a lot of money and resources, we tend to overeat; hence, we can become thick or overweight. In contrast, during lean times with fewer resources and money, maybe we go a little hungry and eat a little less, becoming thin. To be friends through thick and thin is a clear visual representation of enjoying the great times and still being supportive through the bad ones. Such a great kind of friend to have!
Kim has been my friend through thick and thin, from attending graduate school together to teaching at the same colleges; through deaths and births, even now, we are still close though we rarely see each other these days.
The purpose of a bridge is to close a physical gap or distance; it can also provide a way across a difficulty like a river. When building bridges between people, the gaps may be easygoing seen too like physical or cultural differences, but they may also be more elusive like emotional or ideological. So if the point then of a bridge is to make a connection between two sides, the point of building bridges between people is to make connections despite differences. At the end of the day, despite our wide diversity, we are all humans together and should be able to make connections based on that if nothing else.
I truly enjoy building bridges with students every Tuesday Under the Tree with Mrs. C. I think it is beneficial for both them and me.
Bridge Over Troubled Water
This is one of my all-time favorite songs for its language, message, and musicality. I’ve included a version here with the lyrics posted so you can follow along as you listen.
I like the idea of having someone to count on, a bridge of assistance over the troubled water. Isn’t that when we most appreciate friendship, when it helps us through difficulties, through the rapids in our rivers of life?
One of my favorites movies is It’s a Wonderful Life. In this movie, Clarence the angel reminds George the main character that “no man is a failure who has friends.” Here’s a brief clip, but the entire movie is worth a watch if you’ve never seen it!
I’ve failed at many endeavors in my own life; nonetheless, I can be assured that at least in my relationships, because of my many varied friendships, my life has been and will continue to be a success!