“There are good ships, and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea. But the best ships, are friendships, and may they always be.”
This has been especially so when they travelled outside the boarders of their country. But we are told that they treasure friendships and would regularly recite the Irish proverb that was used to introduce this essay. This was especially so whenever friends gathered for social drinks.
Đang xem: But the best ships are friendships
My first encounter with an Irish national took place during the winter of 1977. I was a student in Birmingham, England, at the time. The winter appeared to be beastly cold that year. As Christmas Day approached, my longing for a warm Caribbean Christmas was evident. I was understandably homesick. I dreaded the thought of spending a cold, miserable Christmas away from family members, friends, and the warmth of the Caribbean sunshine. I had anticipated that this would have been my most miserable Christmas. But I was wrong.
Lillian Chinnery, an Irish national, and her husband, John, lived a few miles from where I resided in the West Midlands. They had contacted the British Council in order to ascertain whether there were any foreign students who may have been interested in spending Christmas Day as their guests. Many of my colleagues from Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific countries declined such invitations. However, I accepted their kind offer. They agreed to pick me up early that Christmas morning. We spent most of that Christmas Day together. We conversed about our varied experiences. I was surprised to learn that even though Lillian was a talented and accomplished secretary, she often found it difficult to obtain employment in England, “once they heard her Irish accent”. Our friendship developed over the months that followed. Lillian typed most of my assignments from then on. We have kept in touch over the years. John and Lillian befriended me when I needed a “warm home” that Christmas. They have subsequently returned to live in Ireland. We communicate via regular post from time to time. Those handwritten letters still warm our hearts and remind us that the best ships are friendships.
Friendships are often considered relatively fragile. They also demand rather high maintenance. We have to be prepared to keep the lines of communication going if we are to preserve their value and allow them to grow. This is as true for friends who are physically close as it is for those that are separated by miles of land and/or sea, or time. The value of the friendship is enhanced as we accept the challenge to have regular and clear communication. In the absence of these, the “ships” deteriorate and may eventually sink (if we use that analogy).
It would be interesting to conduct a personal survey to ascertain how many friends (not merely acquaintances) we each have. In addition, we could broaden the exercise to rate the value of the relationship. For example, on a scale of one to ten (with ten being the most valuable), we can assess how precious these friendships have been over the years. Many of these friendships may have emerged during primary school, secondary school, in our neighbourhood, our church, and so on. As we sail back in time (to use the analogy), we contemplate how many of these “good friends” have drifted away from us (or we have drifted away from them). We ask ourselves whether we should seek to rekindle those friendships. They have not all drifted into nothingness. They may still be mutually valuable.
We can sometimes become so busy as we engage in pursuing our personal goals, that we allow friends to glide away. If not reminded of their presence and value, we could quite easily allow them to drift beyond the horizons of our lives. This is especially so when they do not regularly cross our physical or cyber space. Life is fragile. Friendships are valuable. Good friends are often few and far between. It is precisely because of this, that we should learn to treasure them while they are still around. We may be separated by time and distance, but we should find the time to remind them that they are ever present in our hearts; that we value the contributions that they have made to our lives. Many would have been our source of encouragement and support through many of the most dangerous storms of our lives. They would have aided us in trimming the sails or steering away from dangerous reef formations. In some instances, they may have been on board with us when our ship hit a reef or ran aground. They remained with us to ensure our safety.
We often observe friends drifting away as a result of changes in physical location. Sometime the old adage “out of sight; out of mind” appears to be accurate. However, we need to make every effort to ensure that distance and/or time do not tarnish/retard the development of our friendships. There are instances, too, where changes in ideology encourage us to pull up anchor and sail away. On other occasions we allow the “little differences” and “minor conflicts” to move us from our friendship moorings. On reflection we discover that we allowed little things to become big hindrances and retardants. Unresolved “little conflicts” can create strong rip tides in relationships. There is wisdom in seeking to resolve such misunderstanding and misperceptions as soon as they appear.
Friendships add value to life; they enrich our living. Muhammad Ali (1942-2016), born Cassius Marcellus Clay, said it so well when he said, “Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.” So we learn to treasure those few individuals who qualify to be categorized as our friends. They remind us that the best ships are friendships.