“It is not, as somebody once wrote, the smell of cornbread that calls us back from death; it is the lights and signs of love and friendship” (John Cheever).
WHEN WE MAKE THE CHOICE TO BE FRIENDLY RATHER THAN UNFRIENDLY, WE OPEN THE DOOR TO ONE OF THE BEST COMPARTMENTS OF THE GOOD LIFE. “Friends are the sunshine of life” (John Hay). But it is a choice that we must make. Friendliness should be more than a mood that comes over us. It should be an act of the will, a decision to live in a certain way.
“Friendliness,” as opposed to “friendship,” is a fondness for friendship, a disposition in that direction, a determination to make decisions that favor friendship. It’s an attitude which says, “I see the value of friends, and I want to do my part to foster friendly relationships.”
Friendliness is one of the qualities we need to have if we intend to grow throughout life rather than stagnate. Friendly people are open to new friendships, and as they acquire them, they find their lives expanding in healthy ways. Without neglecting their old friends, those who have the quality of friendliness welcome the chance to demonstrate that attitude to new people in new situations. Sarah Orne Jewett said it colorfully: “Yep, old friends are always best, unless you can catch a new one that’s fit to make an old one out of.”
Today happens to be a day set aside for some special gestures of friendship. Who are those to whom you will give or send some Valentine’s greeting today? Chances are, they’re special people you need to be thankful for . . . and show friendship to on other days too.
We don’t always have to be in close proximity to our friends, but it’s important to know that we have them. It’s important to know that, somewhere, there are those who know us, like us, and trust us.
There is a sense in which friendliness is a measure of character. By this I don’t mean that those with outgoing personalities have a better character than others, but simply that the choice to welcome friendships into our lives (along with the work necessary to nurture them) is an indication of character. In the end, we’ll enjoy little else that we’ve accomplished if we haven’t been fond of friendship.
“A man cannot be said to succeed in life who does not satisfy one friend” (Henry David Thoreau).