Tuesday 4 August 2009

We Could Be Friends

Of all the people you walk or drive past, stand or sit next to each and every day while you travel to and from work or go about your daily tasks, some of them could be your friends... if only you knew them.

Walking home from work today (you guessed it - across those often-mentioned sunlit fields again), I thought about that. And not for the first time.

While I was moving along the path towards my hometown, a woman came cycling the opposite direction.
When she was close enough, for some reason, we smiled at each other, and that was it.
The encounter, if you can even call it that, lasted for the blink of an eye.
Or the length of a smile.

There are usually several cyclists on the fields when I am out there, as well as people who walk their dogs, push a pram, go for a run or simply walk, like I do.
But only occasionally, a brief and fragile link is formed by that most universal of human facial expressions, the smile.

The woman on the bike was, I guess, maybe 10 years younger than I, with more-than-shoulder-length dark brown wavy hair, beautiful skin the colour of milky coffee, wearing a green t-shirt and jeans. Her face was pretty and made even prettier by that smile - something I am always ready to admire in other people, especially since my own smile is a rather unpretty sight.

Why did I think of her as a possible friend? Just because she was really good-looking?
I am shallow, but not that shallow; certainly only very few of my friends have been grown on a beauty farm.

The term "friend", in itself, has to be used with discernment here.
Being a sociable animal like all humans (some more, some less so), I have a wide circle of friends and acquaintances; in more modern terms, my network for socializing is quite big.

Close friends, though, are something else; here, the number goes down to a one-digit-figure.
And closest friends I have two, determining the "closest" factor by how much I trust them and the amount of personal (very personal, indeed) information I have chosen to reveal to them and they, in turn, to me.

One of these is, hardly surprising, my sister. She naturally knows a lot about me, having grown up with me and lived in the same house for 18 years.
But she does not know everything about me, nor do I know everything about her.
The other one knows some of the things about me that not even my sister knows.
Still, he does not know everything about me (nor does he need or want to).

So, how and why do we choose our friends, and they us?
Is the closeness we feel on our side of the friendship the same that they feel?
Could we be totally wrong in thinking we are close friends with someone, while they, at the same time, merely see us as "one of so many", as an acquaintance?

The woman on the bike has, most likely, forgotten about me seconds after she was past me; she is probably simply a friendly person with a ready smile.
But she could, right now, just as well be sitting at home at her computer and writing a blog entry about friends.
Yes, I like that idea!

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