Continuing from my last post, philosopher W.V. Quine in his letter to James Harmon for Harmon’s book, Take My Advice, ends his letter with a note about friendship. Quine writes, “Above all, cultivate easy and sincere friendships with kindred spirits and enter into them with generous sympathy. Sharing is the sovereign lubricant against the harshness of life.” I love this quote because it is all about putting others first so that one can build real relationships to not just serve themselves, but to serve everyone and help everyone enjoy their life to a greater extent.
Quine’s quote addresses the challenges and difficulties that result from the dull and tedious nature of hard work, and how friendships can ease those difficulties. What he is saying is that good friendships, where neither person is trying to gain something from the other but both people are openly sharing, are what help people through the rough, mundane, and tedious parts of life. What Quine is talking about is not the type of friendship where one seeks the help, advice, or aid of another simply for their own benefit. The friendships which he discusses, the friendships which build meaningful relationships and help people overcome challenges, are built not on an expectation of returns, but on a true interest in knowing another person.