We were sitting around making vague generalizations about the nature of human relationships and the frailty of intimacy, and Erickson turns to me and says "What's a friend?" Now everybody in the world knows what a friend is, of course, and any of us might have given a long dissertation in answer to the master's question. Erickson's question was not a question but the trumpet flourish before a cadenza. "No, Milton, I don't know. What is a friend?", I answered.
"A friend is someone you love who you don't try to change," he answered, thus putting into perspective the entire realm of romantic liaisons in which every one of us had tried to mold our beloved to conform to some internal model. Twenty-three years since he made that remark, and I'm still laughing. Of course, I never do anything that might remotely be considered an attempt to change my wife, my daughter, or my closest colleagues. Sure.
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