“Surely he should keep a remembrance of their former intimacy…” Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
Sometimes it feels like Aristotle foresaw all the vicissitudes of my life. He muses regarding the issue of the demise of friendships–surely a thorny aspect of human life–and how one should act toward former friends.
Things change, circumstances change. Indeed, people change. But we wonder: was it my fault, their fault, or both? Or neither. We could spend much time trying to discern.
It seems that most of all we need to learn to see ourselves. We will never be able rightly to understand our relationships—either past or current—unless we learn to see ourselves. Often what we find will be bracing, especially as we examine how we have acted toward our friends. Was I overly demanding, did I make enough effort, was I unwilling to accommodate..?
But the truth about ourselves will set us free. There is no safety, or closure, in ignorance.
Perhaps it simply couldn’t work, we being too different, too far apart. Such can be the case. Maybe it could have worked, but we failed to make it work. Such too can be the case. Sometimes we can try again, with humility, and forgiveness. And tears. We will need wisdom to know: how do we find closure, do we try again, do we move on?
In any case, and especially if we must move on, Aristotle makes a great point: we need to live in remembrance. If you were once my friend, then this much at least, will always be true: you were once my friend. My actions should reflect this truth; and even if other others cannot tell, my former friend should feel that I still remember. And that I will not forget.
Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), student of Plato, tutor of Alexander the Great, has been considered by many to be the greatest ancient philosopher. The Nicomachean Ethics is his main moral treatise.
Image: Two Fisherman by a Boat, Michael Ancher
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Great article John. I fondly remember a lot of my old friends and even some cousins whom I have lost touch with. I definitely am not the same person I was years ago when we were friends but as you stated “we were friends” and I will always have love in my heart for them. One thing I can do when I think of them is to lift them up in prayer and ask our Lord to send His blessings upon them. God Bless
Excellent point, Rick. Thanks for sharing it.
That’s a really nice way of looking at it. Even if you aren’t friends with somebody anymore you were once and they are still that person.
Just posted an article about losing a friend very special to me and to be honest for over a year I wiped them from Facebook, used to shiver when their name was mentioned and was angry but as you say I eventually ‘learnt to see myself’ and feel like I learnt something from the experience and will always care for that person in some way. Hope you check my piece out if you have the time and enjoy it as much as I liked yours.
Our memories retain the long term better than short term events. As we age, we have time to reflect on those many friends of ours. I find myself telling my grandchildren to be kind to others for we never know what may be troubling them. Be cordial, yet friendly in your actions with others, especially during a time of strained meetings. Always try to keep good memories in your dealings with others for when you are old, you will have happy memories to keep you company.
If one prays the morning Offering daily, a petition asking for the intentions of all of your associates is included. Think of all of your praying for your friends (associates) over the many years of your life!