A friend recently sent me news about some phenomenal successes he is enjoying in a new business venture. I responded enthusiastically about his amazing gifts. He e-mailed back: " You , my friend, are too much ! But I must say, I love having my own cheering section!" I responded, without even thinking, "What are friends for?"

Precisely! Friendship is about being what a hero of mine described as "balcony people" instead of "basement people." Basement people are those who live in our minds, telling us we will never amount to anything, that we are doomed to fail and that we are royal screwups. Balcony people are those who are consistently cheering us on. "Go for it," they say to our attempts to find our voice, to live in ever widening circles, to dare, to create, to break through our lives' sound barriers.

While not all of us are made to be married or to live in an intentional formal community, be it a kibbutz, ashram, monastery, convent or commune, all of us are created to live in some form of friendship. Friendships are what help us be human. Although my wife is indeed my soul friend, in this essay I am not using her as an example of friendship. The following thoughts are about something that is more universal than marriage—having soul friends who are not one's partner or spouse.

Examples of true friendship