“A best friend will always tell you his or her take about situations which confront you, regardless of your positions. Such a friend will often do something for you unasked and expect no reciprocity. If you are ill or in need of any kind of assistance, such a friend will at least offer to help—while maybe not able, for example, to make a large financial advance—but can make you aware that there is real commitment to be as helpful as possible—not just saying, "Is there anything I can do?" which is a frequent way of doing nothing.”
Without a doubt, a mysterious chemistry creates best friendships. I have watched some of the finest men bond with other dudes that seemed totally at odds. At other times, I have seen alpha males bond with other dominant males via sports, but their competitive personalities led to caustic outcomes.
Once in awhile, two highly competitive males may bond because their personalities don’t collide via their egos. At other times, two non-dominant males become best friends because neither threatens the other. Sometimes, a high powered male befriends a lesser male to boost his own sense of maleness.
Several of my best friends matched my athletic skills, which created excellent bonding that led to long term friendships. There’s nothing quite like sharing physical, raw adventure. It may be the purest form of friendship whereby you share great moments, scary moments, dangerous moments or triumph at the top of a 14er or rafting class fives or other adrenalin producing activities. Sheer exhilaration creates an amazing bond between men.
On a mental level, several literary friends matched my passion for writing, but couldn’t accompany me on highly physical ventures like backpacking, mountain climbing or bike racing. That kind of a male bonding remained in the intellectual realm.
One of my best friends became my spiritual ‘best friend’ whereby we bonded at church, but beyond the sanctuary, we lived separate lives.
Some guys make friends with another man because he may serve as a father figure. How does that happen? The first guy makes friends with an older man or near the same age because the first guy lost his father or his father drank himself to death or a dozen other reasons.
Not having a father creates a need to find someone that recognizes ‘you’ live and breathe.
While you may enjoy ‘acquaintances’ at work or play or church or civic groups, that ‘best friend’ chemistry remains a mystery right up there with the “Big Bang Theory” or “What do women want?”
But once you make that stunning connection, everything feels ‘right’ with the world. You can call your best friend to figure out a problem, hit the road on your motorcycles, spend a day on the slopes, share a fishing trip, or hunt or climb any mountain. It’s been said that ‘best friends’ share one spirit in two bodies.
My friend Don said, “Having a best friend is a wonderful, exhilarating and rarely achieved state for many people at any age. Never letting too much time pass without realizing, considering and celebrating your good fortune with such a person is a cardinal rule for me. I feel fortunate to thus have a number of "best friends" all of whom I celebrate and savor. Maintaining friendships has something to do with one's energy and mental acuity, but mostly with that rare and precious commodity—time.”
“Does this mean I am unwilling to make a "best friend" commitment?” you ask.
Not at all! But "best friend for what" might be a better definition. My golfing friends, for example, are "best friends" for that department, but might not ever want to discuss other matters which are an integral part of my whole self. There are others who want to discuss politics, even religion, or perhaps art and music, whose company I crave.
A longtime friend Herb said, “One of my other best friends was one that never criticized me. He took long walks with me and listened to me. Sometimes he interrupted me and wanted to cuddle in my lap. That was my dog, Boo. Great friend! It was sad when we buried Boo many years ago. But I have fond memories of my best friend, Boo.”
Herb added, “My friends are the ones that agree with me. They are the ones that disagree with me, and tell me why. My friends are those that I have shared experiences with. Shared ideas with! Shared good times and bad times! My daughter once told me, "Dad, sometimes you act like an ass when you meet new people. Next time when you meet someone, welcome them into your life as your new best friend.” Thank you daughter Karyn! You are one of my best friends for telling me that.”
Who, in the end, must be your best friend, day in and day out? Herb said, “Right now, I am one of my best friends. I plan on going out and enjoying this day with Herb and see who else is out there to celebrate today with. Maybe I will meet a new best friend.”
My long time German friend Gerd said, “My former best friend turned 50 earlier this year and when I went to his party I felt I didn't belong anymore. His life has been always in my little town of less than 1,000 inhabitants and I have been around the world, got to know new and different people from different cultures, backgrounds and races. Now I felt we were just talking about our youth but otherwise we didn't have anything to talk about. I felt lost and knew I didn't belong anymore.
“Well, life happens but I have found so many new friends over the years who have not always kept in touch. I am not sad or mad about this fact. It happens! People evolve and friendships come and go even so this was a special one, and when we were between 12 and 20, we did everything together. It was great. It is a bit sad but like I said before, people evolve and obviously it happens they often evolve in different directions.
“A big point I think is when one of the guys gets married and the other doesn't. The wife looks upon THE friend sometimes like a competitor and tries to loosen the ties. It actually happened with my long time girlfriend who wanted to claim me all for herself and I saw friendships slipping away.”
I have more to say about Gerd’s experience in another chapter.
My Venezuelan friend Juan said, “When I left Venezuela to study in the USA, I left my neighboring friends and playmates of cowboys and Indians when I was nine years old. We shared that “chemical togetherness” of being one more brother with whom one shares the adventure or creativity of imagination of a different place in a different time era. Most of our characters were taken from comic books of the time, Roy Rogers, Red Ryder, Hopalong Cassidy, the Lone Ranger and of course Buck Rogers. It was the sharing of creativity in adding features that were not in the comic books themselves, but in our imagination that we gleefully enjoyed among ourselves.
“The first experience of making new friends in a foreign country is to find common adventure ground.
“The joy of climbing a chestnut tree to its full height, regardless of the initial language barrier, made communication much easier in action, not so much in words. “Gee whiz, he does the same as we do and enjoys it” would probably be their exclamation. It was the joy of being together and doing things that we all liked. This togetherness made up for the absence of being far away from home and from being absent from mom and dad. It taught you to be creative and to shield oneself from your own weaker feelings of loneliness. This feeling of being alone was the main factor of being united, regardless of where we came from.”
My Australian friend John, with whom I bicycled across America coast to coast, said, “I like your quote about a best friend is a miracle of the universe.”
“When you extend friendship into the universal ‘friendshop’, new limits operate,” John said. “Just look into the night sky. They are the friends of the lonely sailor. They are the friends of those who wander the deserts.
“They are the stars that have kept humanity company for millennia. Something as universal as stars endures beyond friendship in this mortality. You are born under the stars and leave the same way. Some say you come back again to give it another go and the memory of the stars is reacquainted.
“This is the stuff that warms the spirit. Bonds of such friendship have a cosmic feel. Now if one is lucky enough to have a cosmic friend then there is a friend for life, even lifetimes.
“I know of such friends that endure beyond normal dimensionality. Do you ever get a pull toward such a jewel of nature? Ever felt part of you is up there in the stars? Maybe like a part of your higher nature? Imagine if you had a higher nature and found it. What sort of friendship would that be? What bond could be stronger than finding your lost half? No reunion could be more immense. What longing is more binding than such a coming together?
“It is the concept that is within as well as without that deepens ones individuality.”
Whatever the heck creates such a friendship, life feels better and the sun shines brighter.
Excerpt from: Losing Your Best friend--Vacancies of the Heart by Frosty Wooldridge, Kindle, copies 1 888 280 7715, www.amazon.com