Do you have acquaintances? Those who you know socially, who you really don’t know. There’s and interesting word, as it applies to getting beneath the surface of someone’s personality, and that mask we all wear.
In Spanish there are two words for “know.” Saber and conocer. One means to know of, while the other implies an intimate knowledge of something or someone, as having been to a place, or knowing details of someone’s life.
Knowing of seems to hint at a superficial knowledge of something. I may know of the Grand Canyon, have seen it from the air, but have never stood on the cliffs around it looking down at the Colorado River, or experienced it’s grandeur close up.
So I have many acquaintances in my life. I speak to at least 10 people everyday while out walking. None get by without an enthusiastic “Buenos dias!” Some I can call by name, shake their hand, giving just a few a warm embrace as well. They are in that category of those I have a superficial knowledge of. I may even know what they do or where they live.
Then there are the ones I know. We have shared meals, confidences, laughter, lots of laughter, a few tears, secrets, where an intimacy exists, most of all trust. Mix it all together and it comes out love.
Some have been friends since infancy, while others are in the childhood of friendship. There are those in between where our relations have been separated by miles, but the heart never fails to span distances. All it takes is the nudge of a thought out of nowhere, a message, seeing something that jogs the memory, the aroma of brewed coffee, sensing their spirit, music loved by both that stirs the soul.
Faces do not flood my mind, instead a trickle of those few hover momentarily, as one fades into another. As I reflect on how some of these friends came into my life, there seems to be no fixed circumstance or occasion. A chance conversation on a plane flight, singing in an ensemble together, meeting in a work environment, looking for a place to give something away, growing up together. It seems that no two came about in the same way.
Contact occurs in various ways. There is an ebb and flow unplanned, stronger for some, more distant with others. Never forced, enjoyed fully in the moment, always knowing even in prolonged silence the connection is still there. As life changes so must each of these be given space.
As a tree grows the roots spread in what seems a random fashion. Water flows where it will. Wind finds no barrier. Light constantly exposes darkness and clouds find no form. Friendships are like that. I believe it is impossible to apply a definition.
That may well be the appeal of a friend. There is no need to put them in some neat little compartment. They just are what they are. No possession allowed, since none came with a price, instructions or conditions. Valuable beyond measure.