I attended an interesting lecture today on the Calculus of Friendship by Dr. Stephen Strogatz. He described and commented on his long time friendship with his high school calculus teacher Mr. Joffray who is now 81 and in failing health. Over thirty years they have carried on an exchange of letters primarily focused on their mutual love of mathematics. Dr. Strogatz has chronicled their friendship in a recently published book, “The Calculus of Friendship: What a Teacher and a Student Learned about Life While Corresponding About Math” . This is a touching story of evolving from a strictly math focused exchange to a more human calculus of a relationship connecting on a deeper personal level.
His lecture has caused me to reflect on the major element that goes into forming a friendship. I guess it would mostly be a shared common interest. Perhaps this common interest is the glue that brings people together and holds them in relationship over time. I know that I have several friends from the geezer skiing community who lead quite different lives than I do, but we have a common bond friendship that starts with the ski experience. And as time goes on this friendship expands to include other shared experiences. The same kind of phenomenon seems to work in my faith community friends. The friendship starts with this common bond and then evolves into other things. Most of my friendships are much shorter term than the 30 year length that Dr. Strogatz talks about. So each of us has our own story and each of us has our own unique life history.
In a closing thought, I expect that having a successful marriage in the long term not only depends on a fundamental love of one other but also is assured by a glue of true friendship.