Friends have been foremost in my mind this month, partly because of all the wonderful cards, emails and calls that came my way on my birthday. But this month has also been a trying time for many friends who've been dealing with illness and loss, and I hold them in my heart.
With all of that in mind, I'm dedicating this month's Last Wednesday Wisdom to friendship, with a collection of quotes on the subject. Incidentally, tracking the quotes down turned out to be a bigger challenge than I expected. While a Google search turns up loads of friendship quotes, confirming their sources isn't so easy. For instance, I discovered that one popular quote attributed to Albert Camus may have originated in the 1970s as an Iowa high school class motto. Other quotes are correctly attributed, but taken out of context.
I did uncover a valuable resource in the course of researching quotes, though. On his blog, The Quote Investigator, author Garson O'Toole investigates the origins of popular quotations. While he hasn't investigated all the quotes I'm citing here, he did clear up confusion about several. So cheers to Garson O'Toole—and to friends!
When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.
-- Henri J.M. Nouwen
You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
-- Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)
I have no duty to be anyone's Friend and no man in the world has a duty to be mine. No claims, no shadow of necessity. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself . . . It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.
-- C.S. Lewis
I think if I've learned anything about friendship, it's to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don't walk away, don't be distracted, don't be too busy or tired, don't take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.
-- Jon Katz
“Why did you do all this for me?” he asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.”
“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”
-- E.B. White, Charlotte's Web
Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.
-- Muhammad Ali
If you have two friends in your lifetime, you’re lucky. If you have one good friend, you’re more than lucky.
-- S.E. Hinton, That Was Then, This Is Now
But please remember . . . that no person is your friend (or kin) who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow and be perceived as fully blossomed as you were intended.
-- Alice Walker, In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose
Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.
-- Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934
Friendship is the bestiest thing that comes to life.
-- Marilyn Monroe
Written from the heart,
from the heart of the woods
Read the introduction to HeartWood here.
Nan Sanders Pokerwinski, a former journalist, writes memoir and personal essays, makes collages and likes to play outside. She lives in West Michigan with her husband, Ray.