‘To feel completely alone and isolated leads to mental disintegration just as physical starvation leads to death. This relatedness to others is not identical with physical contact. An individual may be alone in a physical sense for many years and yet he may be related to ideas, values, or at least social patterns that give him a feeling of communion and “belonging”. On the other hand, he may live among people and yet be overcome with an utter feeling of isolation…’
I walked through soft rain, so soft it was soundless, but not so weak that it was momentary, from a sky not grey, nor yawning blue. Ahead of me my sister rushed, I walked languidly, something deep within me stirred. Like Bilqis who lifted her skirts to walk across a floor she thought was water, I lifted my skirts to walk alone through dappled rain.
Two conversations ran into the subject of friendship today. One friend says she’s pleased to have found friends who are more like her. She has recently met a group of women who share similar values, attitudes, and world views. ‘It’s like you no longer feel so different,’ I tell her knowingly because I too felt like an alien for much of my early Earthly existence. Only when I began meeting people who were able to relate to my ‘never-say-alouds’ did I feel closer to Earth.And yet it’s not as though we never had friends before we met these people but the discovery of people who mirror ourselves has to some extent enriched us, earning us a sense of validation.
Later on another friend asks me if I’ve ever really had the sort of friend who’s a second self. I enthusiastically inform him that I have. Is it a mistake he wonders to find in our friends echoes of ourselves instead of complements to our shortcomings. I think friendship, as an act in constant motion, is like an organ transplant. There must first be a match between donor and recipient for it to be successful. And sometimes in the most cautiously selected circumstances the transplant is a failure, the organ is rejected. I’m not saying that sameness is a fool proof recipe to making friends, but in seeking friends who are echoes of who we are we come to better understand ourselves.
When the Prophet (PBUH) said that on the day of reckoning, ‘You will be among those whom you love,’ I think this is as much a caveat to choose our friends with discernment as it is a reminder that who we are is defined by who we love.