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Amber Paulen

Cultivate Friendships

Late in Henry Miller’s writing life, he wrote two books of a series dedicated to his friends (and his bicycle). I’ve read neither of them, but they sit on my shelf and remind me of the importance friends had in his life.

When I say friends, I mean friends. Not anybody and everybody can be your friend. It must be someone as close to you as your skin, someone who imparts color, drama, meaning to your life . . . A life without friends is no life, however snug and secure it may be. —Henry Miller, Book of Friends

I have flipped through the books, and it’s truly impressive to read how well Henry Miller remembers the people he writes about, even though they were kids. Maybe old age and constant writing inspires a super memory, or maybe he just remembers them because they were that important to him, because they made his life meaningful.

Friends stayed with Simon and I last week, and we mixed with more friends and managed to pull off a photography and leather bags and accessories exhibition. Before and after we did many other things too, but this exhibition was the highlight as anything is when you come together and dedicate thoughtful time.

But back to my original subject about friendships, as we had several conversations about them throughout the week. It seems that as we get older and perhaps have families and perhaps not, but get caught up in our own life and work all the same, that sometimes friends get left to the wayside. Probably too, because people spread out around the world and it takes real effort (and money) to travel to see them, we tend to forget that they even exist and they drift away from the memory of our daily lives. And all this is a mistake. In a way, the “social” networks can take some of the blame as they take meaningful friendships and turn them into something entertaining for a second—instead of forcing us to fully appreciate what it is like to have friends in this world.

Simon has been saying this lately, “Cultivate friendships.” Cultivation can mean several things: getting the ground ready for the planting seeds or helping those seeds and plants as they grow. Like everything, friendships suffer if not taken care of, and a friendship, unlike plants, never have a time when they’re finished growing. To friends and cultivation!


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