Modern Friendships, by Phillip Lopate…

I haven’t been sure exactly on what to post this past week.  It’s been a bit crazy.

One thing that comes to mind is an essay that The New School had us read in a summer non-fiction writers intensive course I took about seven years ago.

That class saved my life that summer (thanks Mom and Dad for helping me attend) and I’m happy that I made a small number of friends that I’ve kept in touch with since then, and stepped on a path leading in the right direction.

I remember bits and pieces of that time, but what I really remember is this essay called Modern Friendships by Phillip Lopate. You can read it in it’s entirety by clicking that link.

Summarizing, it’s about…well…modern friendships.

You want your friends to celebrate happy moments with you, vice versa, and when things get tough you’ll give them a shoulder to cry on, and then cry on theirs.

The last paragraph of the essay has always gotten to me, especially the last sentence.

When I think about the qualities that characterize the best friendships I’ve known, I can identify five: rapport, affection, need, habit, and forgiveness. Rapport and affection can only take you so far; they may leave you at the formal, outer gate of goodwill, which is still not friendship. A persistent need for the other’s company, for their interest, approval, opinion, will get you inside the gates, especially when it is reciprocated. In the end, however, there are no substitutes for habit and forgiveness. A friendship may travel for years on cozy habit. But it is a melancholy fact that unless you are a saint you are bound to offend every friend deeply at least once in the course of time. The friends I have kept the longest are those who forgave me for wronging them, unintentionally, intentionally, or by the plain catastrophe of my personality, time and again. There can be no friendship without forgiveness.



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