I have been wondering what friends mean. There are many definitions of friendship based on various characteristics of a relationship. Most of them make sense one way or other. But whenever I have been questioned on how I look at friendships, I never think on the lines of those interpersonal characteristics. Here is my usual answer:

Friends are people who share things that change you psychologically, even if only a little, from the way you were before.

These things can be stories, ideas, memories, or any physical entity. The key is their potential for positive psychological change. So a fruit vendor is not a friend1 but someone who gives you a fruit when you were hungry is.

But I am looking at this again and I am starting to believe that friendship is not about people but about events. Having friends doesn't mean anything. Having friendly encounters means everything. We build up countless characteristics like loyalty, affection, vulnerability, and so on to ground these acts of sharing on various humans for promises of stable supplies. But I don't think that's how things should be.

In any case, in a very fresh friendly encounter, a person shared invictus with me. I like it. It changed me, a little. Since it's a small poem, I will paste all of it here:

Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.



Of course only considering the fruit transaction here