Like a lot of people, I tend to partition my life into segments. There's the work segment, the personal family segment, the martial art segment, etc. Of course, a segment can be composed of subsegments; for instance, friends can be categorized as my wife's friends, my personal friends, or friends of both my wife and myself (usually other couples).
For the most part, the segments don't bleed into each other very much; in a sense, I lead multiple lives. My family and personal friends rarely cross into my professional life and my professional friendships rarely bleed over into my personal life. There are exceptions; my business partner is also a close personal friend of mine --but not of my wife. Not that my wife dislikes my partner; it's just that they rarely have cause to interact.
And, yes, I know there are those of you out there who are eager to demonstrate your wit over that last statement, but please, just save it.
If you think about it, it's amazing how strongly we compartmentalize our lives. We see the clerk at the convenience store almost every morning, but fail to recognize him when we meet him out of the context of the store. This situation can lead to some uncomfortable "Where do I know him from?" moments. I'm especially prone to this predicament because not only do I compartmentalize my life, but I also have a strong memory for faces but not for names; I am forever recognizing faces but not able to associate a name or context.
For myself, I find the blurring of compartments somewhat disconcerting. I find there is something uncomfortable about mixing associates and friends from different contexts. For this reason, I rarely go out after work with business associates or even attend company parties. Even if I go to lunch regularly with a coworker, I rarely associate with them outside of business. By the same token, I rarely lunch with my wife even though she and I are often available to lunch together. The idea of hosting an event for business associates at my house horrifies me with its absolute wrongness.
In computer science, we have an event called a segmentation fault that occurs when a software program attempts to use memory it is not allowed to access. At the risk of oversimplification (or overexplanation), when a program runs, a chunk (compartment, if you will) of memory is assigned to the process by the operating system. If the program/process attempts to access memory outside of that assigned compartment -- such as memory belonging to another process -- the operating system detects the unauthorized access and generates a segmentation fault, thereby shutting down the offending process and protecting other running processes.
That's how I feel.
Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit. ~Aristotle
Over the last couple of weeks, I have spent a few days with my lifelong best friend. First, he came to visit me and we spent a couple of days engaging in the manly pursuit of big game hunting (deer). Then, over the holidays, my family and I visited Eric and his wife, Barbara, at their home for a day, where we engaged in the manly pursuit (even though Barbara knows more about college football than most men) of watching college football.
It takes a long time to grow an old friend. ~John Leonard
Eric and I grew up into manhood together. We became good friends just out of high school and were best, hang-out-every-day friends for the next 10 years. Since then, we have lived in different states for the last 15 years, trying to visit each other a couple of times a year. Despite the geographical and chronological distances in our friendship, I know that with a single phone call and no questions, Eric would be at my doorstep to lend a helping hand. And he knows the same of me.
Friends are relatives you make for yourself. ~Eustache Deschamps
I suspect that at first we liked each other because of shared common interests or possibly shared traits that we like in ourselves. But, I wonder if friendships deepen when people begin to see traits in the other person that they wish they had themselves. In Eric's case, I've always admired his spontaneity and adaptability to change. Since I've known him, Eric has had multiple careers including machinist, sailor, high school teacher, salesman, real estate investor, hair stylist, camp counselor, and a few others I can't recall offhand.
Friendship... is not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything. ~Muhammad Ali
In the long run though, I think true friendships are created when a casual friendship accrues a critical mass of shared experiences. Put another way, the shared experiences reinforce the friendship until they become a buttress making the friendship truly strong. To carry that analogy further, not only do the shared experiences buttress the friendship, but the friendship buttresses us against the stresses of life. Which leads me to one last friendship quote for a regular reader -- and you know who you are...
A good friend is cheaper than therapy. ~Author Unknown