Samuel Johnson is reported by Boswell to have remarked, "If a man does not make new acquaintance as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair."
I am forced to admit that I have not made friends easily in my life. I have many irritating habits, I'm afraid; and not much insight into controlling them. As a boy, I was what is sometimes called "painfully shy," and would become tongue-tied and inarticulate even when spoken to by schoolbus friends. I acquired a reputation for being "stuck up" because I couldn't respond to the simplest "hello" in the school hallway.
One acquires friends mostly by being thrown together happenstance. At university, at work, at the YMCA. There would seem to be levels of friendship, at the bottom of which is mere acquaintance and at the top of which is lifelong commitment. I've acquired friendships at work that lasted beyond, as one or the other of us has moved on; sometimes years or months. But it seems more usual that once the bond of proximity is broken, the two particles fly apart, to lock into different orbits, different friends.
I have a handful of friends, with whom I have become intimately acquainted and for whom I have the highest regard. A couple of these friendships have endured through forty years of my social blundering. It beggars the imagination.
Now, there's more history behind me than prospect before. I look back over a path lighted by the beacons of friendships. Having friends is a strange, wonderful experience.