A Lion, a Tiger, and a Bear


“Love is blind; friendship closes its eyes.” ~ Frederich Nietzsche

Humans aren’t the only ones who have best friends. Many animals benefit from forming strong, platonic relationships because friendships and social bonds actually serve as a survival mechanism.

Case in point: Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary in Georgia, USA. Considering how animals of different species don’t always get along, there are exceptions. For 15 years, three brothers, an American black bear, an African lion and a Bengal tiger have lived together, in the same quarters. Not separated since cubs, they have always been a source of love and comfort to each other.


So… some (at least to me) interesting facts about friends and friendships:

A Harvard Medical School Nurses Health Study found that not having close confidants or friends was as detrimental to your health as being overweight or smoking.

A University of Oxford study indicated that each individual is only capable of maintaining a certain number of friendships at any given time. It found that the human limit for simultaneous friendships is around 150. However, those who maintain hundreds of friendships may do so at the expense of their closest relationships – those we turn to when we really need them.

Our friends truly bring out the best in us. In 2013, UCal – San Diego research found that people look more attractive in a group than they do individually. A simple reason to be with friends, right? (After publishing this post I’m off to hang with friends.) πŸ™‚

And according to MSN researchers, in a lifetime one makes 396 friends – only 36 last – and only one in six are considered to be close friends.


How much time do you set aside to cultivate friendships? Are casual friendships as important to you as close friends? How do you nurture your closest friendships?

Friendships are relationships and they often go through testing times. There will always be ups and downs. Sometimes friends will let you down and sometimes you will let them down.

I miss my closest friends. They don’t live nearby. Acknowledging this, I am reminded of what brought us together in the first place and what will keep us as close as Leo, Shere Khan and Baloo (the lion, the tiger, and the bear):

  1. Make friendship a priority. When you do you empower yourself to say no to less important things in your life and elevate the value of friends in your life. It is always friendships that transcend the daily routine of life.
  2. Be honest. This is essential if you want to improve/keep your friendships – even when it may hurt. Your friends will respect you more, if they know that they can count on you to tell the truth.
  3. Take a road trip. Together! A simple getaway can bring a new level of connection to a friendship. Time away from the day-to-day will help you feel more relaxed, and the anticipation of the trip and memories afterwards – will give the experience additional meaning and value.


56 thoughts on “A Lion, a Tiger, and a Bear

  1. Wonderful post Eric! I love that picture, it speaks volumes about friendship and love. I have never seen such a beautiful picture. Thanks for sharing.
    Friendship is such a sweet word…it conjures up lovely memories and images that give perennial joy! I have some such friends who got left behind as I moved onto the journey of life but they will always be my support, I know that they are just a phone call away even from thousands of miles.

    • You are welcome. I’m glad you found the photo pleasing, Balroop. It is indeed warming and affirming. I believe many, if not most, of us have those ‘distant’ friends with whom we have strong. lasting bonds. Isn’t it comforting simply knowing they are there whenever we need them and more importantly, when we create time to let them know the friendship’s value? πŸ™‚

    • Powerful pillars of strength… that sums it well, Robin. Let us hope that we can be comparable pillars in return. For the fortunate, family can be (and often is) such a source of both friendship and strength. Revel in yours!

      • Eric, your warm reply is appreciated. I will let you know, I have plans to read and visit better soon. I am a full time sometimes 10 hour days, warehouse worker. I had a lovely time tonight with 3 grandsons at Library Lego Club! πŸ™‚

  2. So if the MSN research is broadly accurate, and if I interpret it correctly, then in a lifetime we accumulate on average six true friends. That sounds about right, and manageable, though it makes a mockery of how the term is used in Social Media.

    • I believe you interpreted the data correctly, Hariod. At least such was my view as well. While researching some relevant statistics for the post I found plenty that, to your apt reference, made a mockery of ‘friends’ on multiple social media platforms. I chose to reflect a couple of data points that were resonant with the message and its intention. It is always good to have your thoughtful contributions to a post’s thread. Thank you.

  3. Right there with you, as many of my closest friends live hundreds (or thousands) of miles away. There’s something special about the times when we are able to meet up, and everyone picks up right where we left off, as though we’d never been apart. So thankful for good friendships! Have a good one, Eric.

    • And how often we hear similar words and experiences when it comes to reconnecting with lifelong friends, Brian. It truly is that easy to simply pick up where a conversation and connection was last left. Such moments and relationships are invaluable and well worth our deep gratitude. A good one returned, friend!

  4. I have been thinking of you a lot in the last week. I discovered a food author (versus a cookbook author) that I like and he looks and sounds a lot like you! You may wish to check out Michael Pollan – I read β€˜In Defense of Food’ and am now reading β€˜Cooked’ – he writes well and has some extremely interesting things to say. He also recently did a PBS 4 part series also called Cooked.

    Hugs, Linda

    • Nice of you to check in and share what sounds an interesting individual and resource, LInda. I will create time to learn more about Mr. Pollan. I trust and hope all is well with you and John.

  5. Wonderful topic! I have always tended to have a very small group of very close friends and a smattering of casual acquaintances. One of my girlfriends and I reserve one day a month to spend part of a day together, because as our children are growing up, our lives have become very busy (especially hers). And it’s important to both of us to keep up our friendship.

    • I believe it is fair to say that when we realize the true value of a friendship, we create the time and energy to sustain it. Especially when we know it’s a committed, win-win relationship. It *is* important to keep that connection alive, if not vibrant! Enjoy and appreciate the monthly time you set aside to be and share with your girlfriend.

    • I’m confused. You have an animal farm, Colleen? While the question is both lighthearted and rhetorical, I suspect you would made an amazingly friendly bear. πŸ™‚ In fact, I know this to be true.

      • Well, my friends may not appreciate being likened to a lion and tiger, I mean it completely as a compliment. And yes, that they are a bit animal-y. And thank you Eric, for such a lovely comment!!!! I wish to be a friendly bear. πŸ™‚

  6. You know, I’ve missed your view. So lovely here, Eric. Friendships, for me, are incredibly important. I’m much more suited for the listening intently, but I admit to finally seeing the fruits of opening up and sharing myself without worry of my “life” being deemed unimportant. Thank you for reminding me to call my closest friends. Enjoy your evening.

    • Yours is a kind and warming comment, Audrey. Thank you. You bring up listening, a skill and a gift that when sincerely practiced lends to both the growth and value of friendships. Many of us know how appreciated it can be to have a good friend simply listen. So, good on you for being an intentional listener. Here’s to your having truly meaningful conversations when you connect with your closest friends! Warm March wishes your way.

  7. A lovely reminder, Eric. I really miss some of my close friends who don’t live here, and some even live abroad. I will need to make some calls tonight, keeping the close ties alive is precious.

    • Hear, hear. Keeping the close ties alive is precious and integral to our (and our friends) wellness. As for having friends abroad, therein exists all the rationale we need to book a flight to or maybe even an excursion with them. While virtual/phone connections are always enjoyable, little beats sharing substantive ‘face time.’ πŸ™‚

  8. Love this, Eric. What a beautiful picture those three animals make. I have some close friends since childhood that I haven’t seen in years but we still try to maintain that contact and I still love and miss them as if we had just been together. I have a lot of acquaintances but I cherish my friendships.

    • I am hearing (and easily understanding) a common theme, Linda, and this is that people truly cherish their longest, closest friendships. Not surprising, right? It really is an interesting phenomena when considered, especially when we nurture these few bonds for such lengths of time. Thank you for adding your kind thoughts.

  9. This friendship thing comes and goes for me given the nature of my job where I dont settle in one location. I did great with it last year when I was in Greece. I became open in cultivating relationships. It’s true there’s health benefits to it.

    • You became open in cultivating friendships… Good on you, Rommel. I’m willing to wager that those experiences and memories will stay with you. I hope the nature of your work doesn’t always interfere with your ability and desire to nurture existing and new friendships.

  10. Love is love! The photo reminds me of a picture of small children of different races that are friends. You have made me think about how I should keep up with some friends. In the end the best friends are the ones we can count on no matter what. In some cases one can count on friends more than family.

    • If the post and its message did little more than prompt/encourage you to keep up with some of your valued friends, Jonelle, then it accomplished its objective. πŸ™‚ And I clearly hear you re: how some can, unfortunately, count on friends more than family. Glad you have them!

  11. This post takes me back to the days when my close friendships were made ~ even then at a young age I knew the close friends I made would last a lifetime and it hasn’t disappointed me yet (although we have drifted due to life…). One area that has seen perhaps the strangest trend (at least for me), is how close of friendships I’ve developed with my family. No longer are we simply sister-brother-parents, but buddies that we can do & say anything to. Without these, I’d be lost. This post opened my eyes to how important it is for me to reach out and maintain – instead of jetting off and exploring without a thought for time and those close to me πŸ™‚

    • The man with a perpetual boarding pass acknowledges a significant awareness moment. Kudos for your observation and admission. πŸ™‚ Glad the post spurred a pause and possible reconsideration, Randy.

      The fact that friendships with your family members have grown more close is precious and quite possibly, the envy of many people – even those who have strong friendships outside familial ties. Revel in what has evolved. Here’s to your renewed reaching out to those who matter to you.

  12. I miss my close friends, too, since we moved to the Eastern Shore. I’ve made a few new friends who are very nice and I enjoy spending time with them, but it’s not quite the same as being with those who have known me for a long time. I think you develop a kind of shorthand in close, long-time friendships, and gaps of time just seem to fill themselves in as if they didn’t happen.

    What a sight… the lion, the tiger, and the bear. πŸ™‚

    • Yes, the image of the three ‘brothers’ has been enjoyed by many. πŸ™‚ I like your shorthand reference, Robin. I ‘get’ and have experienced that too. There is nothing like our closest friends. I hope you have opportunities to soon reconnect with them.

  13. That beautiful opening photo says it all..
    We so often grow up having our differences pointed out to us… Labelled and put into our various categories within our tick-boxed world of registration..

    Friends.. True friends are far and few between.. I agree.. and I see many come and go like leaves on the wind.. Thank you Eric for these reminders.. We could all learn from the Lion Bear and Tiger that to love overcomes all of our differences.

    Blessings Sue

    • Indeed, Sue. The photo oozes warmth and companionship. And even if (to your comment) not all learn the simplicity in and value of love, there are still many of us who have used it to diminish our differences and become more thoughtful and tolerant. And what a beautiful community of friends we make and nurture within this WordPress community! πŸ™‚

      • Yes Eric I am very grateful for our WordPress Community it was the best move I made when I transferred my whole blog here some years ago now..
        Wishing you a wonderful relaxing weekend πŸ™‚

  14. Friendship (social interactions) is an important component in achieving BALANCE in life. Without balance maximal health is unachievable. It’s so much more than simply eating right and exercising. Your post’s message is important. People, in general, would likely be healthier and happier if they devoted more time in the area of social engagement.

  15. We are of like mind on this topic, Jonathan. I appreciate your highlighting the facet and importance of social engagement. It is, indeed, vital to our individual and collective well-being. Thank you for creating time to read the post and share your thoughts.

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