Friday, February 18, 2011

Soul Friend

During one of my education lectures (I think...) there was a bunch of discussion about relationships and different types of people, and the term 'Anam Cara' came up. This is, pretty literally, the Irish for Soul Friend. The concept is relatively simple, or I'm making it too simple: you have a friend you can tell anything.

I suppose it goes deeper than that. It's a relationship. Not a romantic one, by necessity, but a relationship nonetheless, like every other friendship or business partnership you'll ever have, and as such the implication that you can tell this one person anything also suggests that they, too, can tell you anything. The mutual level of trust is there, even if it becomes shaky at times - my own personal experience of the matter, and not something I wish to try again.

It's not just about trust, though. I mean, we all place a degree of trust in the people we talk to. We trust teachers. We (used to almost always) trust priests. We trust our parents. We just the chaplain at our school/college. But that doesn't mean we tell them everything, and it doesn't mean we feel the same way about them as we do about our Soul Friend.

The term itself suggests a connection that runs deeper than just the talk and the other aspects of a friendship, like drunkenly laying an arm over someone's shoulder. It's something you can't explain, really, no matter how hard you try and no matter how many words you have in your vocabulary. It's a form of love that can't be broken, but not the same as a parent's love for his/her child, or the same as the sort of love you have for someone in a romantic (and sexual) relationship. It's a run-deep kind of love that doesn't get celebrated on Hallmark day.

I believe in the idea of the Soul Friend. I believe in it because sometimes, even for an attendee of God College, believing in God and having faith in God is difficult. I believe in God's existence alright, but more often my faith is placed in my Soul Friend. It's a comfort thing, on one level, having someone there to talk to, but it's also something more basic than that - I have faith that he can do right. It's what we lack in God, sometimes; there's a great expectation that nothing should go wrong, then a tsunami strikes and thousands die, along with the faith of thousands more. Without getting to religious on the matter, I'd say it's because the love for God and the faith in God lacks two-way communication, lacks the certain security that comes with the sound of another human voice telling you everything's going to be okay, even when there's nothing wrong, telling you how to deal with something when you didn't ask, and letting you talk when you need someone to listen. God listens alright, but the problem I reckon lots of people have is that it's like it's all forgotten a second later and nothing ever gets done.

You can't just look for your Soul Friend. It sounds unfair, I know, that some people have them and others don't, but it's not the richest or the happiest, or the poorest or the saddest that find a Soul Friend. It just happens. It happens and you can't escape it, and you don't want to lose it when you find it. I know if I thought I'd like this friendship, nothing would stop me trying to make things right. I suppose that's dangerous, too, because it means I can put myself in some sort of physical danger, firstly, as well as emotional danger if it just can't be fixed, if the pieces don't quite fit back anymore.

That was my worry once, until I found new pieces that held the old ones together, too.

I write this, on a Friday night because really I don't do anything beyond going to the cinema, but specifically on a Friday because that's the day my interviews will be posted when they're done. Friday is my sort of Friendship Appreciation Day, and Hallmark won't ruin that. But for me, friendship isn't just confined to one day on my blog. Every day in my friendships is important. I just make sure not to test things with my Soul Friend on a Tuesday. Long story. I won't be telling it.

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