Friendship: Organic or Not

In a recent conversation, a long time friend and I argued about the nature of friendship. I was lobbying strongly for an organic metaphor, that relationships are like plants. One person provides the sunshine while the other provides the water. With both inputs, the plant will thrive, but without either one the plant will eventually die. The obvious analogy is that for a friendship to thrive BOTH people must pay attention to the relationship and put energy into it.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I thought my analogy was tight. But my friend had a completely different metaphor.  He said, “This “balance” translates in … what should I call them? visible tokens? To me balance is a mirage. It’s an ideal, not a real place”, he continued, “relationships (and not only human ones) progress or exist in lots of noise and confusion, sometimes in silence, even.”

He went on to say that “relationships are a chaotic algorithm (which is not to say random); the peculiarities of a particular relationship appear at its strange attractors, recursively”.

When I tried to push the organic metaphor, he  said  “a relationship is a system (btw: “system” doesn’t necessarily imply soulless robots), even though you cannot synthesize it in a mathematical formula. I was trying to illustrate that I don’t need a “mathematical formalization” to accept a dynamical system (i.e. a relationship) and that “mathematical formalization” is what “visible tokens” are.

(NOTE : If you are wondering what happened to reading, I’m just finishing up the A. Lincoln book. To be honest, while I’ve enjoyed it, I can’t say that there’s a lot to write about.  I would truly only recommend this book for people REALLY interested in american history, and I’m not even sure I would put myself in this category.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad I read the book.  Not just sure how many people I would recommend it to.  -Dana)

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About Dana Carmichael

Dana has a professional interest in Authentic Intellectual Work. This means focusing on improving intellectual quality in the classroom and increasing student engagement. By day, she does this work with a passion. By night, she is a thematic reader, examining a random essential question for the year through fiction, nonfiction, film and general random conversations.
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