It was my best friend’s birthday over Labor Day weekend, but I feel like I got the gifts. Weather and work timing played out so that we filled parts of three days talking for miles - over sand, sea, rocks, and roads - on foot, ferries, cars and a golf cart (not golfing). We traversed. We covered a lot of ground, and not just the kind underneath our feet.
One of my favorite writers/bloggers, Maria Popova, has featured insights and essays on “Friendship” in recent weekly emails. I plucked some quotes from her notes as well as from my 2016 “go-to book," Consolations.
John O’Donahue - “A friend…awakens your life in order to free the wild possibilities within you.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson described two key elements of a solid friendship: Truth and Tenderness. “A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. … Friendship is for aid and comfort through all the relations and passages of life and death. It is fit for serene days, and graceful gifts, and country rambles, but also for rough roads and hard fare, shipwreck, poverty and persecution.”
David Whyte - “The ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.”
Aristotle - “Friends hold a mirror up to each other; through that mirror they can see each other in ways that would not otherwise be accessible to them.”
Eudora Welty wondered which came first - friendship or the spoken word? “Friendship might have been the first, as well as the best, teacher of communication.” As Maria Popova elaborates, “…it might be the basic necessities of friendship that sparked in us the evolutionary need for language.”
Almost every essay speaks to space, rhythm and accountability in friendship at its highest levels.
Malibu Maine is an imaginary hometown, but my wish isn’t for imaginary friends to hang out on its street corners (although a couple of really good ones are fine). My wish is for friendships to develop through imagination, language, creativity and interaction. Building Malibu - the site, the “idea barn," the place and the platform, with its infinite possibilities - has only just begun. But it wouldn’t have gotten this far without key friendships.
Labor Day weekend is a symbolic summer turning point in Maine. Not only did I get to see a magnificent island landscape through the eyes and experiences of my friend, but she held a mirror up and let me see myself in a way that would not be accessible otherwise.