Friendship: Worth the Work

How many friends do you have? In her book, Dinners with Ruth: A Memoir on the Power of Friendships, National Public Radio’s Legal Affairs Correspondent, Nina Totenberg, writes movingly and eloquently about her friendship with a number of people, most particularly, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. This specific relationship spanned the years both before and after Justice Ginsberg ascended to the Supreme Court.

Ms. Totenberg writes and her anecdotes illustrate her words that, “We, most of us, may be born with an innate desire for friendship, companionship, and love, but being good at any of those things takes work.” There is not one mention of sending a heart emoji anywhere in the book. The “work” of friendship demands being present in a real sense.

If I had to guess, I would say that it is unlikely that I have ever voted in any election in a similar fashion to either Justice Ginsberg or the author. Yet, until the final chapter, which was disappointing, the book is mostly apolitical. Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia is spoken of affectionately and respectfully as another friend, one brought into Nina Totenberg’s circle because of the strong friendship that existed between him and Justice Ginsberg. Despite being diametrically opposed on most issues, all these strong personalities respected and enjoyed each other’s company.

The reminder that disagreeing with someone does not mean dismissing them is, in itself, refreshing. More than that, the book is a paean to friendship and the worth of cultivating friends. As my husband and I are in the final stages of writing our own book expanding on the idea of integrating the 5Fs (Faith, Finances, Family, Fitness, and Friendship), I found Dinners with Ruth especially meaningful. As our publisher’s deadline nears, I have had to force myself not to withdraw completely and instead to continue reaching out to friends and family. While in many ways I have failed to work sufficiently on staying present in the lives of those I love, reading this book was a timely reminder that relationships are well worth the work.

What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this Susan’s Musings post.
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