The first ten minutes I spent thinking about this question had me putting on the Pouty Face of Thought. Then I realized just how simple the answer is.
I am defined by who calls me a friend.
That’s not the same as those who depend upon me or those whom I call friend. It’s the people who ask me to be around them on any occasion, the ones who want to share thoughts and experiences with me, the ones who trust me–and the ones with whom I want to do and share the same. These folks might have less or more education, politics to my right or my left, and head-shaking confusion over what I like and don’t like.
But they believe we share the same human values. They’d trust me with their children or aging parents as I’d trust them with mine. And if we disagree, with do so happily because we are of the same mind on how to respect disagreements.
It’s said that character is what you are when no one is looking. I believe friendship is what you remain when you’re absent, and what you become as the friendship grows. Family might define our youth, but friendship distinguishes our legacy.