“A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

You know, I once crowned the ostrich as nature’s magnum opus. Here’s a bird that can’t soar the skies but can blaze across the land at jaw-dropping speeds. It’s like nature said, “No flying for you, but let’s make you the Usain Bolt of the bird world.” However…upon (even the slightest) reflection, I had an epiphany… or just a better thought than the ostrich theory. The true pièce de résistance 🧐 of nature isn’t my favorite feathered speedster. It’s something far more prevalent, yet infinitely more profound: the friend.

A story from my own life. I’m at a party—animatedly recounting a hilariously dreadful tour of the Hoover Dam. A tour where my greatest learning was that I vastly overestimated my interest in dams. As I’m deep into the story—using that peculiar jargon my closest friends understand—my gestures grow wild, and in a dramatic tribute to the Hoover Dam itself, my red wine breaches its glass banks and cascades over the table’s edge.

Now, in that situation, a mere acquaintance might hand you a napkin with a sympathetic smile. But your inner circle? They’ll be laughing the hardest, already brainstorming the best way to immortalize this moment in your shared history. Because in the lexicon of friendship, ‘clumsiness’ is just another word for ‘legendary tale’. And that, though seemingly an insignificant moment, is nature’s art at its finest.

Friends are the Swiss Army knife of life’s toolkit, ready for every scenario. Need to vent about your boss who has the audacity to breathe? They’re there. Craving a midnight snack of questionable nutritional value? They’re game. Want to try interpretive dance as a new form of exercise? They’ll be the first to cheer you on… and the last to let you forget it.

But what truly makes a friend nature’s crowning achievement is their ability to see us—the real us. Not the “I’ve-got-my-life-together” facade we parade on social media, but the “I-ate-an-entire-pizza-by-myself-and-now-I-regret-nothing” version. And the best part? They still stick around, chuckling because they’ve seen (and loved) all versions of you.

In the grand, sometimes messy, gallery of existence (where, let’s be honest, some of us are a bit more abstract splatters than refined portraits), friends stand out as nature’s masterpiece. They’re not just the background doodles or the accidental paint smudges—they’re the Mona Lisas and Starry Nights that everyone wants a glimpse of. Like those maddening jigsaw puzzles where half the pieces look eerily similar, friends are the ones that fit just right, even if they’re a bit… quirky.

Nature’s given us many wonders: bioluminescent bays, the Northern Lights, and let’s not forget, the inexplicable ostrich. But its crowning achievement? The delightful oddballs we call friends. So, as we navigate our own personal art critiques (and dodge the occasional rotten tomato), let’s raise a glass to the true masterpieces in our lives. They might not hang in the Louvre, but they sure do light up our world.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Product + Content Marketing at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.