Friends hold a mirror up to each other; through that mirror they can see each other in ways that would not otherwise be accessible to them, and it is this mirroring that helps them improve themselves as persons.Aristotle
Camaraderie, friendship, play, and playfulness — they all have deep importance for us here at Practice Playfulness. Especially during challenging times.
That’s kind of how we roll and why we got started in the first place. We saw little current focus on adults, play, and playfulness and began this journey to define them as they exist in society today.
We are working on our definition. It will be grounded in science. We know it won’t include porn or do any harm. It also won’t be malicious. We believe it will be heartfelt and can be entered and left at will. As Tanya Markul may have written “If you find yourself tiptoeing around others you’re not walking amongst your tribe.” With play you shouldn’t have to worry about others in the tribe. Worry for them yes. Worry about them no.
Thanks to FIU and Leslie Frazier, Ph.D. we will soon begin to share how 1800+ survey participants view play and playfulness in adult life. Until then we are taking a belly flop, not a deep dive, into a few prior meanings of camaraderie and friendship.
Words evolve as cultures and society change. As far back as the ancient Greeks, friendship or philia, has been pondered. In her article “The Science and Philosophy of Friendship: Lessons from Aristotle on the Art of Connection” Maria Popova covers several of Aristotles revelations from classifying friendships based on the categories of pleasure, utility, and virtue as well as friendship as the art of holding up a mirror to each other’s soul.
In another article Popova discusses the Celtic term for friendship, “Anam Cara” (not to be confused with Anna Karenina) which in Gaelic means “soul-love” or “soul friend” Anam for soul and cara for friend.
Most recently Rhaina Cohen explores the of role friends in America today. She links ideas back through American history and points to more modern terms for deep friendship in the present day. For some, it’s as basic and blunt as “having a life partner you just don’t want to kiss.” And for others it’s closer to Richard Godbeer’s description, that friendship, in American history “not only conferred personal happiness but also nurtured qualities that would radiate outward and transform society as a whole.”
Camaraderie or Comradery on the other hand, in simplest terms is ‘the spirit of friendship and community between two people or a group of people founded in mutual trust and a sense of belonging.”
The definitions and synonyms (let alone) relationships between camaraderie, comradery, friends, play, and playfulness can lead down a never ending rabbit hole. And why we turn to science for help defining the relationships. What do most adults really think and feel about play and playfulness today?
Research will tell. We suspect there will be some clarity on camaraderie when we/one is absorbed in play. It provides a safe environment and you know where you stand. And if unsure it will still be ok. Because in the end real friends have your back.
Camaraderie and play may not always seem easy but a willingness to participate, combined with the freedom to enter and leave at will, plus the benefits play brings to well-being can make it feel effortless.
To paraphrase a meme flying around the internet this week. If someone asks you to show up in the woods naked for a satanic ritual and then they don’t even show up they may not be your friends. Cheers to all the real friends out there.