Friendships and Mirrors and Birds…oh my.
Growing up, my grandmother always told me to be careful who i let into my circle. Then, i didn’t understand why she was so intent on keeping me away from those “fast-tailed” girls in her neighborhood. The immediate result of my social isolation was that i was teased for being “too stuck up” or thinking that i was “too good” to hang out with them. The lasting result was that i am now extremely guarded.
i realize that this picture is not related to my post content but the bad grammar and the cats made it too good to pass up, really.
As i got older, i began to realize that Granny was only attempting to keep me away from the many traps that tripped up those very same girls that she refused to let me befriend. Before i left for college, Granny had a last reminder for me: “be careful who you let into your circle”. Finally, i asked her what she meant and her answer was simple: “birds of a feather flock together”. At that time i thought the notion was ridiculous. i didn’t tell my Granny that because she would have “slapped me into next week”. But seriously, the idea that just because i am friends with a person we are just alike was foreign to me.
In undergrad, i came across Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and in it he discusses three different types of friendships: pleasure, utility, and excellence. Friendships of excellence are the only true friendships the other types (utility and pleasure) are coincidental and dependent on the exchange of some good. True friendships are based in reciprocal goodwill and as such, we love these friends like we love ourselves. In essence, the true friend becomes another self, a mirror. Just as we are improved by being virtuous, the friend improves us by being virtuous. *End philosophy lecture*
i should have taken Granny’s a bit more seriously. Recent events have called for a deep evaluation of the people in my life. What were they bringing to (or in some cases taking away from) my life? What was i bringing or taking away from them? If a person brings no pleasure or utility, what is the purpose of keeping them around? Surely a person who brings nothing to the table can’t be considered a friend of excellence.
When i look into the mirror, i want to see a virtuous person looking back. i guess granny was right and birds of a feather do flock together. Who are you flocking with these days? What do you see when you look into your mirror?
Sorry about the essay but this has been on my mind for a week!