Thursday, September 13, 2012

friendships—ancient and modern

After a very intense first year of doctoral study, it feels like we're coming out of a tunnel and into the sunlight. We're ready for friendships, ready to invest in conversations, ready to show hospitality, and so glad to be out of "survival" mode. It's good timing. Eliana is in middle school, now. With Emma in 2nd grade, Easton in preschool, and me at Wheaton, we have 4 different school schedules to keep track of and lots of potential connections with other families.

In the week preceding the start of school, I was asked to read Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. The title is more intimidating than the book itself. It was surprisingly easy to read. He has two whole chapters on the nature of true friendship and the factors that must be in place in order for friendships to thrive. I found his words strikingly relevant to our context. Most of what he says about friendship is still true today.

For example, he says,
  • "Perfect friendship is the friendship of men who are good, and alike in virtue" (page 196 in the edition pictured)
  • "those who wish well to their friends for their sake are most truly friends" (196)
  • "a wish for friendship may arise quickly, but friendship does not" (197)

Meanwhile, Eliana and I were working through another book together: The Smart Girl's Guide to Starting Middle Schoola practical and helpful publication by American Girl. When we came to the chapter on friendship, I almost laughed. Their advice sounded exactly like Aristotle. Who would have thought?

Check this out:
"Another question that arises is whether friendships should or should not be broken off when the other party does not remain the same" (Aristotle, 225)

"It's pretty clear by now that you'll be be going through a lot of changes in middle school—both physical and emotional. And the same will go for your friends, too. Since friendships are often based on having the same likes and activities, you may find your relationships strengthening or souring ..." (Smart Girl's Guide, 66)

So take your pick on what to read—Aristotle or American Girl. But do yourself a favor and find a friend.

Friendships are such an important part of life. It can feel like life is too busy for friends, but a friendless life is not sustainable. And that's why I'm delighted that Eliana has had such a great time getting to know a new friend. She and her best friend Gwyn have connected with another new student. Caasi is from the Philippines, and her dad is a new PhD student at Wheaton. Since we lived in the Philippines for 2 1/2 years when Eliana was little, it's been really fun for all of us to have a new connection with a Filipino family.

"In the end, your middle school friends will likely be a blend of old and new friends" (Smart Girl's Guide, 63). So, go out and make a new friend today!

1 comment:

  1. Ha! This was an awesome post, Carmen. Thanks. Sometimes it feels like we never really get out of middle school with friendships :)