To Get a Friend, Be a Friend

January 13, Wednesday. In English class last week, we read “The Editorial” from Maclean’s Magazine about friendship and loneliness. Contrary to what we might expect, old folks reported much lower levels of “feeling alone” than young adults who live in a more socially networked world. Yesterday, we shared in small groups a paragraph we had written in response. My group consisted of Mellina, a friend of Janelle’s, Vanessa, who appeared to be a very sharp young woman quite willing to give (good) leadership, and myself. Vanessa’s paragraph dealt with her own feelings and experiences, Mellina’s was more of an analysis of the editorial, and mine was a reflection on what it meant—not to have a friend—but to be a friend. This tied in with the thinking I have been doing about who I am and where I’m going at this stage in my life. Here’s my paragraph.

Ask not if you have a friend; ask rather if you are a friend. When I think this way of friendship, I no longer ask why I don’t have more friends, but I think of how much or how little I am a friend to those whom I know, or do not yet know. When I become interested in a person and invest time and effort in coming to know them, they may become friends. Strangely enough – actually, not strange at all, but a reversal of the kind that Jesus said the kingdom of God requires – I find that I learn more about a person when I share myself with them. Exposing some of my inner life to them may lead them to share something of their inner life with me. Perhaps the depth of a friendship increases with the vulnerability each person gives to the other. In short, the surest way to gain another as friend is to become one to them.

Today, I read chapter 3 in Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life in which she tries to wrestle to the ground what it is. Depressing! Who could ever be a writer if you have to go through such a painful process? But Annie Dillard does. Can I? As you know from an earlier entry, I too have written “My Writing Life” and wonder if it is possible to actually have, for myself, My Writing Life. Can I write my life? Is writing part of my life-to-come-yet? My optimism says “Yes!” because I want to share with my kids and grandkids what life has meant and still means to me and writing will help me to figure that out. My concern is whether I have the skills and determination to carry it out. This course on Expository Writing will help me, because I intend to write things that are part of my trajectory “Writing My Life.” Welcome to my journey. Read my life as I write it and share your thoughts. A journey with friends is better than a journey alone.

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