From my class list of things that make us happy, I’d like to share about one of them that didn’t make me cringe. Companionship. I like this. Because whether or not you have a companion(s) in your life, I think everyone can acknowledge the desire for one. The desire to walk life alongside another. To descend into the valleys. To climb the mountains. To walk the plains. Together.
The English language can lack precision a lot of times because many of its words have multiple meanings. Words like love. I love pizza. I love my mom. Same word, but different meaning. We use the word “friend” in a variety of ways as well. I might call a person I have one class with my friend, even though I may not talk to him or her the rest of the week. But I also call someone I’ve went to school with and played sports with my whole life my friend. The word companion is closer to this second example of friend. Whereas friend is quite the spectrum, companion implies a deeper relationship. Not deeper in the way that you talk about deep things (though that may very well be part of it), but deeper in the sense of the connection. You see each other, you understand each other, you accept each other. With friends we are left wondering how long we will be in each other’s lives. Maybe until after college then our relationship will kind of fade when I move. Or maybe when he gets married. However, with a companion there exists a greater certainty. Companionship is steady, consistent, enduring. There is not a worry that when life happens, the next moment they might not be there. Isn’t this what we all desire? A human other than ourselves that we can depend upon?
Though it seems tough for us to acknowledge this desire. In our year of 2018 when people hear the word “companion” their minds automatically think of pets, particularly dogs. Pets can make great everyday companions. No arguments there. Especially dogs. However, this desire we have for companionship is human. Its deeper. It cannot just be reduced to a need for social interaction or a response to loneliness. We desire to share life with another being that can go to those deeper places of experience with us. To share, thus, to be vulnerable.
The origin and Latin meaning of the word “companion” translates to, “with whom one eats bread with”. This is a powerful meaning. Unfortunately, in twenty first century USA we seem to have lost sight of the importance of sharing meals and the value gained through experiencing a meal with another. To be present to another. This word, at its root, suggests a social dimension, but also a level of comfortability and vulnerability. When we eat with someone else, there is a chance they could see the food in our mouths. We might spit some food on them by accident or cough up a storm because the water went down the wrong pipe. Typically we eat with people that if they saw us in “awkward” or “messy” moments they wouldn’t go anywhere. They’d still share some bread with us.