People come and go, in and out of our lives. Some of them will make overtures of friendship towards us. Most of us have plenty of acquaintances but the number of people we consider true friends is much smaller. We have unseen barriers surrounding us; defensive lines we do not let just anyone cross.
As we come into contact with other humans we decide whether or not to let them through the ‘acquaintance barrier.’ That is our first line of defense. We decide whether to keep them outside of that barrier as a stranger or person to be avoided. If certain conditions are met we may let them through the ‘acquaintance barrier’ and get to know them a tiny bit, learn their name and interact with them when we encounter them. They are people we accept into our lives but who we have not yet allowed past our ‘friendship barrier.’
Friendship involves so much more than simply knowing someone and interacting with them. When we allow someone inside that defensive barrier the relationship becomes very personal and we open up and reveal so much more of ourselves just as they do. There are levels of trust and sharing and love that we do not have with just anyone.
Dogs are famous for their unconditional love. All they have to do is sniff you and they immediately know if you are a friend or not.
Humans are famous for their conditional love. We do not let other humans through our mental defense barriers unless they meet certain conditions. It can take a long time before we consider anyone a true friend.
One of the strongest elements of our ‘friendship barrier’ is fear. We have all been betrayed by friends and that is a yucky feeling. We do not want to go through that again.
Another strong element is guilt. We have all betrayed our friends to at least some degree in the past. Friendship requires a lot of love and we do not always feel like we have enough to give. We do not always feel like we can be a true friend so we keep people out so that we never end up being the friend who didn’t step forward when friendship truly mattered.
Two more strong elements of our ‘friendship barrier’ are time and energy. We are all so freaking busy in our lives. Do we really have time for another friend? In our overwhelming lives do we have the energy to put into another friendship?
Another ‘time element’ is our conditioned belief that a true friendship must last forever. If we allow someone to be our true friend then they must be our friend until death and beyond. They must always be there. If there is a chance that they won’t always be there then we are very hesitant to allow them passage through the ‘friendship barrier.’
Have you ever had a true friend for just a day? Or a week or a month or a year? Someone you opened up to completely and loved unconditionally in total disregard of how long that friendship lasted? Did the friendship continue in your heart even if you never saw them again? But we consider that friendship a loss because it did not extend into the future. We can be so focused on and concerned with the future that we cannot luxuriate in a friendship in the NOW.
Dogs have no concept of ‘future.’ Their unconditional love exists only in the NOW. But the conditional love that humans dwell in is always rooted in conditional concepts of linear time. We cannot accept friendship with another human unless that friendship extends into the future. Likewise, our concepts of friendship involve actions from the past.
Humans have so many conditions to friendship. Those conditions coagulate into a barrier that surrounds us and forms a defensive force field that keeps so many out. And keeps us trapped inside.
Unlike dogs, we humans do not go around sniffing each other. Our sense of smell is not that well developed. And our inner senses are usually atrophied. We put all friendships through mental litmus tests and therefore no doubt miss out on countless friendships. We are afraid of being vulnerable, we are afraid of being betrayed, we are afraid of being hurt, we are afraid of being inconvenienced, and we are afraid of coming out of our shells. And our expectations further complicate everything.
When we turn off the non-stop mental chatter in our brains and instead act from our heart we can pierce through our mental barriers and find the friendships that truly impact our lives. (Even if they only last a day.) It is unconditional friendships that strengthen our hearts and draw us into the divine one-ness we are all part of. It is friendships that mirror our divine nature and help us grow.
But sometimes to discover and experience those friendships and burst forth through those barriers we have created we must take a leap of faith.
When was the last time you took a leap of faith with another human?