William James said: “Wherever you are, it is your own friends who make your world.”
Kevin Ngo said: “If you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a LOT of time dealing with a life you don’t want.”
I think these two quotes and thoughts go together. My friends are a huge and crucial part of my life. To have good friends, I think you have to BE a good friend. That is where the second quote comes in: You have to CREATE the life (full of friends) that you want. It won’t just happen. It takes time, energy and focus (and hey, it’s fun, too!)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge said: “Friendship is a sheltering tree.” (from his poem, Youth and Age)
The image of shelter is a very strong one for me. I find shelter not only with friends and family, but with my faith. I love Psalm 91:4 — He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. (NLT)
This quote and the Psalm also remind me of a very creative and wonderful photographic challenge undertaken by a friend of mine, Mark Hirsch. It is called “That Tree.” He took a picture of an old oak tree every day for a whole year. He posted them on facebook and gathered quite a large following. Now a book of Mark’s “That Tree” photographs is published.
You may be wondering “how does this tree photography project apply to the topic of friendship?” Well, word of mouth spread friend to friend on Facebook and on other media. People have found comfort in the beautiful photographs that Mark has created (and continues to create). On the last day of the year-long project, Mark invited family and friends to join him out in the field with That Tree! I was there along with many, many dear friends and community folks from all over. That Tree literally shelters a living community out in that farm field, but it also shelters a community of nature, photography and art lovers. Read more about that day here: http://sometimesthereisbeauty.blogspot.com/2013_03_01_archive.html
Do you remember a children’s book called “A Tree is Nice“?
Sample text from the book: Trees are beautiful. They fill up the sky. If you have a tree, you can climb up its trunk, roll in its leaves, or hang a swing from one of its limbs. Cows and babies can nap in the shade of a tree. Birds can make nests in the branches. A tree is good to have around. A tree is nice.
I think making the leap to apply some of the images from Udry’s book to friendship is not that huge to make: Friends are beautiful. They fill up your world. You can have fun, just relax, and spend time together. A friend is good to have around. A friend is nice.
Sarah Vowell said: “Being a nerd, which is to say going too far and caring too much about a subject, is the best way to make friends I know.”
I completely agree with Sarah! I am passionate about many things in my life and most of those interests have led to very strong and lasting friendships. For instance, I have friends in the quilting world, in the music world, in the teaching world, and friends with interests in many other areas, too.
I’m also reminded of Dr. Who fans, Star Trek fans, LOTR fans, etc. People with many common interests can become instant friends (which makes an excellent segue to my next quote!) —
This C.S. Lewis quote has long been one of my very favorites: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another — “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
Being with a friend doesn’t always mean you are talking constantly, though. This last quote agrees with my belief that the best friends in your life make you a better YOU. Hopefully you do the same for them, too.
Bob Herbert said: “Other people have something to say, too. And when they don’t, that glorious silence that you hear will have more to say to you than you ever imagined. That is when you will begin to hear your song. That’s when your best thoughts take hold, and you become really you.”
Curious about these people? Me, too.
According to PBS, William James was an influential psychologist, philosopher, “a highly original thinker and one of the great multidisciplinary minds in turn-of-the-century America”
Samuel Taylor Coleridge is one of those poets you learn about in high school. He is probably best known as the author of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and of “Kubla Khan.” You can read his bio here.
Sarah Vowell performed the voice of Violet in the movie “The Incredibles.” She is the bestselling author of six nonfiction books on American history and culture according to her bio.
C.S. Lewis is probably best known as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia and of Mere Christianity. He was a member of “The Inklings” along with several other famous authors (including Tolkien, among others). Lewis was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University, where he lived and worked for nearly 30 years.
Bob Herbert was syndicated op-ed columnist for the NY Times until 2011. Favorite Herbert topics were poverty, the Iraq war, racism and American political apathy towards race issues. He is now working with Demos, a US research and policy think tank.
- Mark Hirsch: How a tree helped heal me (cbsnews.com)
- The Tree – as seen by a photojournalist… (lensluggers.com)
- Video: Mark Hirsch photographs “That Tree” (cbsnews.com)
- Mark Hirsch photographs “That Tree” (cbsnews.com)