Club Friendship Link Coordinator, Alyson muses on friendship and what it means to us as human beings and Soroptimists…
Friendship is a strange thing, one of those things that, for most people, permeates everyday life without us giving it the amount of thought that something so important really deserves. Whilst it is undoubtedly true that we can choose our friends but not our relatives, for some people the two combine naturally and easily, while for others they definitely don’t, and for those who have no known surviving relatives, the comfort and support we will all need at some time in our lives have to be sought elsewhere. Even for those who do have relatives, the relationship with them is usually quite different to that with friends, perhaps to do with the fact that, although one may become estranged from a relative, the biological bond still exists, whereas friendship can be rendered dead as the dodo by events.
Humans are herd animals, social beings, for whom isolation is not the best natural environment. That’s not to say that many people who live alone don’t thrive on it or that those who don’t live alone are necessarily in a better place, which, in it’s turn, is not to say that living with someone, for however long, necessarily makes them one’s best friend. Friendship is much more nuanced than mere presence in one’s life.
It’s also not to say that a friend must have only two legs; some people’s best friend has at least four and many an arachnophile will have their most serious conversations with a pet spider. You can pour out your soul to such a friend, safe in the knowledge that they won’t tell you to pull yourself together or that you should stop being judgemental, and you know that whatever you say won’t come back to bite you further down the line.
The Soroptimist concept of friendship links is an unusual phenomenon but a good one, all about building friendship at a distance with people one might otherwise never meet. With the starting point of the only common factor being the aim to improve the lives of women and girls (not forgetting the men and the boys whose lives may be improved in the process), it cements in our consciousness the realisation that, whatever we choose to do as Soroptimists, other members somewhere else are doing the same sorts of things with the same aims in their very different context. One of the easiest mistakes to fall into, as we go about our programme action projects in and around Lichfield, would be to think that we are doing it alone, and that somehow the needs that we identify on our patch are unique to our patch. Not so, and that realisation could overwhelm us if we let it. But a different kind of effort, the work that we put into developing and maintaining our friendship links by sharing our Soroptimist life gives us the sense of proportion we need for that not to happen.
Friendship doesn’t happen out of nothing; it takes effort to create and nurture it, but it is perhaps the most under-rated of life’s joys, and we are truly deprived without it. If you’d like to be part of our exceptional friendship group, just get in touch.
Club Friendship Links:
SI Lichfield & District has Friendship Links with:
- SI Kaarst, Germany
- SI Lurgan, Northern Ireland
- SI Mansfield & District, England
- SI Thames Valley, England