A little more on Epicurus

I'm learning that Epicurus had a lot to say about friendship, one of the corner- stones of his philosophy. Here is one of his obser- vations: "Neither he who is always seeking material aid from his friends nor he who never considers such aid is a true friend; for one engages in petty trade, taking a favor instead of gratitude, and the other deprives himself of hope for the future." Interesting. Friendship involves a lot of trust, mutual trust. Today I feel extremely fortunate to be able to count on some friends who I know are there for me. I hope I can be a true friend to them. Many of the greatest pleasures come from friendship and the security we get from cultivating these friendships. Friends help us stay away from loneliness and with our friends we stay connected to the unfolding of our lives. The photo here is a detail from Velazquez's famous painting of The Feast of Baccus, or The Drinkers. I put it up because yesterday I was having coffee with a guy (not really a friend, not yet, anyway) who looks like this. I think Velazquez's portrait of this man, apart from capturing wonderfully the positive side of alcohol, also suggests that his subject enjoyed the benefits of real friendship. He has a real twinkle in his eyes that is always absent in the lonely. One of my big fears when I stopped drinking was that the party was over, that never again could I enjoy the great feeling of connectedness that is vaguely suggested by Velazquez in this painting. Thankfully, I learned that these fears were totally unfounded. And of course, I learned that the feelings of connectedness that can seem so transcendent at the height of a festive celebration were sometimes illusory, even self-delusional. What happens when the party is over? And that question could lead us back to Epicurus and the nature of pleasure... and around in circles we could keep going, but right now my dear friend Waldo is suggesting a walk along the beach.

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