As we pass through life, we will make hundreds of acquaintances, but we will have few real friends.
THIS is the year when I should retire and withdraw my EPF savings, if not for the retirement age having been raised to 60. It is the landmark Double-Five year for those born in 1959.
Over the Chinese New Year season, many reunions were celebrated, including events with people whose friendship goes back all the way to Standard One.
During those gatherings, many of us were marking out dates in our calendar for Double-Five birthday get-togethers throughout the year.
At a recent lunch, one old friend remarked that his sons thought it was “weird” that he still had friends from that era.
In our world today, where the young ones are more connected to gadgets than real people, such long-term friendships may be harder to maintain.
At gatherings of primary school friends, we invariably come to the same conclusion – that friendships forged in our earliest years have a bond that last a lifetime.
I always enjoy such gatherings because our current positions don’t matter at all as we look back to those innocent days when we learnt and played together.
Life moved at a slower pace, and no one was engrossed with their smart phone or rushing off to go for tuition.
I am more wary of gatherings where the word “networking” is hovering in the background.
Here, our name cards are scrutinised for important titles and money-making possibilities.
Heartwarming sharing is the exception rather than the norm.
When I was a home-maker, there were many awkward moments as the opening question would always be about where I worked.
I had fun dishing out home-made namecards that proudly proclaimed myself as “Full Time Househusband” but I think not all my friends were amused.
The women reacted differently. Those who were in the workforce felt uncomfortable, while those who were home-makers wanted me to share my stories with their ever busy husbands.
As we pass through this life, we will make hundreds and even thousands of acquaintances, but we will have few real friends.
In fact, if you develop two or three genuine friendships during your lifetime, you are a blessed person indeed.
Do you have a friend who sticks closer to you than a brother?
A friend who encourages, builds you up, and prods you along through good and tough times?
Do you have a friend who is honest with you – one who is prepared to say “no” even when everyone else is rah-rahing you to go in one direction?
If you are in the workforce, do you realise how friends desert you when you are no longer in a certain position, not unlike some politicians?
These are the so-called fair-weather friends who are not prepared to be loyal and persevere through the difficult times with you.
At times like these, you don’t actually lose friends, but you discover who your true friends are.
Soo Ewe Jin (firstname.lastname@example.org) is thankful for the friends who have journeyed with him through many storms and hopes to be such a friend to others. The STAR Sunday Starters Home Opinion Columnist 16/02/2014