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Friday, June 15 2001

Gradations

What started as a discussion of a general friendliness characterizing, especially, small towns (Nanty Glo, and my brother's current home town, Willows, Calif.) shifted gears in yesterday's post to thoughts about intense, under-the-skin friendships that consume major parts of our lives. As in the week before, Thursday's entry was written as an exercise in and for my Tuesday night writers' group. I find it a little fascinating that these exercises turn into something bigger than expected and, to me as a longtime writing instructor, worthy of discussion as examples of something in their own right. I believe I'll continue the practice of using Tuesday evening's exercises as the source of Thursday's Jonal entries (Wednesday's entries are already prepared to send before I leave for the writers' group).

I'd never thought about the array of varieties in which friendship presents itself in life, and the importance of each type. Intuitively we all know there are gradations from friendly acquaintances to neighbors to kinships to intimate relationships (like siblings and marriages) that also function as some sort of friendships. But it did not occur to me before starting this as an ongoing topic how many gradations of "grey" there are in the white-to-black scale that defines friendship. In a sense, especially after a few years to let it percolate, most of us probably think of all (perhaps with a notable exception or two) of our high school classmates as friends. It's worth spending an evening (via a "reunion") schmoozing with them in general. But it might surprise us, as it did me, to find in my recent class reuions the classmate(s) I found myself conversing with the most, and whose company I most enjoyed. It seemed "we were never that close," and yet 40 years after graduation we found ourselves gravitating together because we had things in common that hadn't even occurred to me.

Somewhat similar but yet much different is the surprise I experienced at my grandchild's birthday celebration to find myself talking for most of the time with my ex-wife because she was the person there who, despite our general antipathy, I had the most in common with.

I don't plan to continue this topic indefinitely...thought I'd give it this week and move on, but it does seem to present many more subtopics than I'd expected. You're welcome to chime in on any of these and I'm glad to note that the response on this topic thus far has been higher than usual, and with less prodding than usual on my part!

Suggested subtopics/questions to delve:

  • Why are certain friendships intense, to the extent of being defineable as "love," regardless of the gender of the friend/partner, while most others never rise to that intensity?

  • At which point in a relationship does it move from casual to "bonding," or "fellow-feeling" or "love"? Can you think of examples from your experience when a friendship "turned a corner"?

  • What are the best characteristics of friendships?

  • Why are you sometimes the leader, and at others the follower in friendships or friendship circles?

  • Have you ever met someone you wanted to be friends with and consciously "pursued" to intensify the relationship (excluding romantic or sexual connections)? Have there some that "jelled" and others that didn't?

  • What are the differences between childhood, adolescent, and adult friendships? (It seems to me that they are each unique...would you agree?)

These are just a few of the possililities. Other additions are welcome in the mix.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

The Top 40 Things You Will Never Hear A Southern Boy Say (collect 'em all!)

10. Little Debbie snack cakes have too many fat grams.
9. Checkmate.
8. She's too young to be wearing a bikini.
7. Does the salad bar have bean sprouts?
6. Hey, here's an episode of "Hee Haw" that we haven't seen.

Sent by Mike Harrison

Four more to grow on

"There is no heavier burden than having great potential." Linus ('Peanuts')
"I don't want to be a 'good loser.' You have to do it a lot to get good at it." Troy Steffen
"The new business environment dictates two rules: 1) Everything happens faster, and, 2) Anything that can be done will be done. If it's not done by you, it will be by someone else." Andrew Grove (Intel founder)
"In a free society, wealth is not distributed, it is earned. The greater my capacity and willingness to please my fellow man, the more I can earn." Dr. Walter Williams

Selected
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