Having good friends is extremely important to one’s overall enjoyment of life. ~G. William Hood
For the last several years, I have had a wonderful friendship that has continued to grow and become deeper over time.
I met Enrique Fuentes when I saw a posting on a community forum that gave the coffee he was selling great reviews. I decided to call him about purchasing some of his coffee. Enrique explained that he would deliver it with the hour.
When the doorbell rang – exactly one hour later – on a Saturday afternoon, I walked through my garden and opened the front door, I was greeted by a huge smile and warm handshake as Enrique and I introduced ourselves to one another. I invited him into the main house and asked if he would like to share cup of coffee with me.
Not only did he readily agree, he came into the kitchen with me to assist in the preparation of a my first pot. I thought at the time that this was done to assure that I would measure out the right amount to assure that his coffee would surpass my taste test. I later found out that this was one of the many wonderful traits of Enrique – to be helpful.
In a few short minutes we were sitting at the dining room table and sipping what turned out to be an extremely wonderful coffee that came from the side of the Soconusco Volcano, in a region in the southwest corner of the state of Chiapas in Mexico along its border with Guatemala. It is a narrow strip of land wedged between the Sierra Madre de Chiapas mountains and the Pacific Ocean and has the perfect altitude and climate for growing outstanding coffee.
Our conversation was one of the most engaging that I had enjoyed in decades. It is not often that you come across a person capable of having a great conversation, let alone making it enjoyable for both parties. The art of conversation has all but been lost over the years.
When I was a young boy in the late 1940s, my father would hold court at the dining table with members of the family and his many friends, as I sat and soaked up knowledge. There would be large amounts of coffee consumed with the sharing of stories of the past, politics, life, relationships, philosophy, and seemingly endless humorous tales.
Today, conversations are limited to shorthand messaging on social media sites and there is nothing of substance. Most people want and need human contact, and in the past that connection often took the form of a simple conversation. Those conversations rested on four key principles:
- Taking the initiative and reaching out to the other person;
- Showing genuine interest in the other person;
- Treating others with respect and kindness; and
- Valuing both as unique individuals who have much to share and offer one another.
The conversation I had that day with Enrique possess all four of the key principles. And, he was warm, engaging and best of all the conversation covered a wide ground. As well with his extreme intelligence, being well traveled, educated on a great number of subjects we were able to carry on conversations that were extremely esoteric in that they were likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest.
At the end of the afternoon, as I walked Enrique to the front gate, we both decided that not only had we thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon, but we made plans to meet the next Saturday when he brought me more coffee.
That was the beginning of our Saturday Conversations that would continue over the next many years. The conversations that we have enjoyed would grow to fill a book, perhaps several.
We have spoke of the migration of people from China and Africa to populate the rest of the world and what it must have been like for those early explorers, the habits and traits of different cultures, spoke of the books we have read and what the author intended, the philosophy of relationships, how to brew the perfect cup of coffee, as well as thousands of other subjects.
As an example it is not often that you can find a person who can hold their own in a conversation about how the universe is an ocean, consisting of a superficial layer of life where one finds apparent confusion and disharmony. From a deeper point of view everything flows in unity in the sea of human thoughts.
Indeed, while the universe does not have long-enduring secrets based on separateness or absence of communication, and it does not allow them to exist, there are some facts which many do not understand, and to which many are unprepared to discuss.
Most people will never be able to enjoy what Enrique and I have found in our Saturday Conversations, which have occurred on planes of abstract thoughts and universal perceptions that those who are unprepared and non-attentive could not easily grasp.
We have spoken often about why we were drawn together and have enjoyed our time together in such a manner. Was it just luck that brought us together? Or, perhaps it is that no one is a passive victim of circumstances. That individuals create a psychic atmosphere in which they breathe and live. I believe the latter to be true — a form of mental telepathy, the most fascinating function of human consciousness, the perception and transmission of feelings and ideas between individuals, even at a distance.
The word telepathy much more than it’s Greek origin of two words combined “tele” [distance] and “pathos” [feeling, suffering], to feel at a distance. It surpasses the mere transmission of logical and clear-cut thoughts. It includes all kinds of contact between two or more minds, when such an interaction transcends — though often includes — the help of the five senses.
The number of times that Enrique and I have been on the same wave-length or were able to see the others point-of-view, even when we had not previously held the same beliefs, give testimony of something beyond either of our individual selves.
The phenomenon of telepathy is more frequent than people generally think, but in most cases it happens in semi-conscious, unperceived and sometimes undesired ways. Telepathy is present in the various aspects of daily life, and in partial and distorted ways. It is because of our unconscious belief in telepathy that we are careful to not think bad thoughts about persons or situations for fear that our very thought may cause it happen. Or that we think in a very positive way, that we can somehow control the good fortune of another.
This belief in telepathy is where the odd thought of “I’ll keep you in my prayers and hope that you get well quickly” for a friend with an illness. As an aside, this cannot possibly be from a Christian philosophy that people would actually believe that a God would consider what is good for all based on the number of individuals who believe it to be righteous. If one were to read and believe in the Christian bible, they would see that their Jesus, the so-called Son of God, went against the wide-spread beliefs of the general populace to show them the right way to live their life. That same philosophy continues today in that right is in the heart of the individual and not what is considered by the majority.
No, I believe that Enrique and I were drawn together by a magnetism that exists in the universe in which we think in right ways to intensify the unconditional practice of right thought. Some might call it friendship for all the right reasons.
I began this article with the quote, “Having good friends is extremely important to one’s overall happiness.” There has been much research into the benefits of friendship and most agree that the better the quality of the relationships you have; the more likely you are to be happy. Therefore it’s good for your happiness to be a great friend to someone and to have a great friend supporting you. It is even better if you can have a group of truly great friends supporting you. But it can be hard to pinpoint exactly what makes a good friend.
A friendship begins when you decide to give another your friendship and they give their friendship to you — the same as with love. You cannot simply ask someone to be your friend and expect them to give in to your needs or wants, no more than you would ask someone to love you. Both friendship and love are gifts that you give to another.
Friends will come and go in your life, much the same as love, but more important than how long a friendship lasts, is that a good friend will love you for who you are. Yes, the more someone loves you for who you are, the stronger the friendship.
We all have “friends” who are present in our life for a reason. They may be in a “club friend” where we share a like interest. Or a “church friend” that we only see on church occasions. Or a “school friend” that we went to school with and we sometimes get together for a reunion. And, of course there are “Facebook friends” who we can tell where we had dinner and what we had to eat, even posting a photo of the dish in front of us at the moment.
But a true friend is so much more than an occasional friend. They are the one that you invite to your family dinners, birthday dinners, holiday celebrations, and proudly introduce to others as your Best Friend. Enrique was quick to introduce me to his family members, who I have become close to (his girls refer to me at Uncle Bill), his mother, his other friends and co-workers and has invited me to share many special occasions with he and his family over the years. Just yesterday, he had a gathering of his co-workers from the university where he is a professor and he invited me. I was the only one who did not work at the university and he introduced me to each of the arrivals as his best friend of many years.
The way you can tell the sign of a good friend is by looking at the actions they take – big and small – that show they care. Some common signs of a good friend include the traits below. They will meet and often exceed these traits and more:
1. Trust - Friends trust one another with a firm belief in their reliability, truth, ability, or strength. Friends accept what the other believes and allows them to hold their own beliefs. Friends are responsible for one another.
2. Non-Judging - Friends are beyond judging, understanding that judging a person does not define who they are, it defines who you are. They attempt to understand where the other person may be coming from. They try to rephrase any critical internal thoughts into a positive ones, or at least neutral ones.
3. Kind - Friends are always kind to one another and will never put each other down or deliberately hurt each other. They have a kind and sympathetic nature toward one another.
4. Respectful - They have a feeling or show deference and respect to each other at all times. They act in a reverent, dutiful, polite, well mannered, civil, courteous, and gracious manner at all times.
5. Loving - Friends give their love to each other because they choose to, not out of an obligation. There is great feeling and showing of love and great care for each other.
6. Enjoyable - Friends enjoy the company of the other and especially in giving delight or pleasure to the other.
7. Loyal - They are consistently and freely giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to the other. They are always there for one another no matter what. They can depend on each other to do what they say they will do and not change their plans once made.
8. Truthful - Friends will always tell each other the truth - even when it is hard.
9. Communicative - Telling a friend how you feel about them and your friendship is important. You don’t have to make a big deal of it all the time but sometimes there are moments where letting someone know that they’re important to you through something you say, can make a big difference to how someone is feeling.
10. Fun - Smiles and hugs are a great way to show friends that they’re not alone, that you’re there for them, and that they are important. Friends make one another smile and laugh - often.
11. Present - Friends are present and stick around, even when thing get tough. If you’re worried about someone and you want to be there for them, just ask them what they need– that way you know what they find helpful during tough times, and you can be there in a way that’s most useful to them.
12. Listen - Listening is so important not to underestimate, but it can be hard to do. The best way to listen is to try and understand the situation from your friends’ point of view. If you aim to do this, you’ll naturally find yourself beginning to ask the right sort of questions and they will appreciate having someone who really cares about how they feel and what they’re going through. You don’t have to have all the answers, and you shouldn’t assume your friend wants advice – they might just want to talk so that they can work out what they’re going to do themselves.
13. Supportive - A friend can be trusted to support you even when you are at your lowest low. They will cry when you cry. Even if are not in close proximity of one another, making an effort to keep in touch through Facebook, emails, texts and calls will show your friend you are there for them. A friend is someone who will take a few days off from work and visit you on your birthday to make it special for you, or to stay with you during an illness and spoon feed you chicken soup.
14. Accepting - Ever wonder if your friends are real? You’ll find out when you do something wrong. If a person cannot deal with your vices, addictions or bad decisions, they are only a fair-weather friend. They will say that they do not judge others, but they will judge you at your worst and decide when and how they will treat you on that basis, not on who you really are. A real best friend loves you when you’re occasionally drunk and acting belligerently, when you are angry and raising your voice, or need a shoulder to cry on.
If you want to do all or many of the things listed above for someone you care about, you’re already a good friend. It’s also common though, to not know exactly what to do or say in order to simply be there as a friend for someone.
My friend, Enrique and I have shared all (and more) of these friendship traits and that is why our friendship has endured. It is certainly my hope that all are able to embrace these seven traits so that they too can find that one person in their life that is a true friend.