“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
“For without friends,” Aristotle once said, “no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.” In his writings known as the “Nicomachean Ethics” Aristotle identifies three kinds of friendship, the first based on the pleasure of another’s company, or “friendships of pleasure”. The second has to do with usefulness in association, or “friendships of utility”. And the third is about mutual admiration, what he refers to as “friendships in virtue”. All are essential to the good life, according to his writings, and the best sorts of friends will not only admire each other’s excellence, but take pleasure in each other’s company and find their association of mutual advantage.
I am self-employed and work alone. It has been my life’s dream to do this, to do my own thing, be my own boss. It is a glorious way to live to be given the opportunity to make a living doing what one loves to do, where work does not feel like work. I love it more than anything I can ever imagine. But I must warn that in some ways working solo is a dangerous endeavor. More than once I have learned of its hazards the hard way; for as with any occupation certain support functions are required in order that the primary purpose be pursued, not all of which are fun nor am I particularly good at them. Example: some time ago I received notice from a government agency that I had failed to file a certain form. It was not intentional, of course, simply an oversight — ignorance more precisely. It took at least a day in total to resolve the matter, time taken away from my primary purpose, which I found most aggravating. Such administrative distractions are more common than I care to mention.
I am learning, however, to surround myself more and more with trusted friends and colleagues who help me in supporting my best efforts. Even though I remain self-employed and work alone, I cannot do it by myself. I need a team. I need colleagues within my profession from whom I have much to learn. I need others who are good at the things I am not. And I need the company of family and friends who give me pleasure. For as the wisdom of scripture reminds us: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up.”