I didn’t really turn out.
I had enough wisdom to disagree with stupid shit, but not enough wisdom to do anything against it.
That’s my problem.
I know enough to see that everyone is full of shit, that they help their family and few friends but otherwise content themselves with some mix of talk and shoulder shrugs.
But I don’t know enough to see who anyone really is.
I know enough to see that lying, cheating, stealing, and hurting others for private gain, perverse kicks, or whatever is all garbage.
But I don’t know enough to improve myself, others, our shared organizations and governments.
I regret dishonesty and corruption where I sense it; but I cannot defeat the lie that acclaims dishonest and corrupt behavior honest and forthright while belittling honest and forthright behavior as dishonest and corrupt.
In short, I smell and abhor evil in myself, in others, in government, everywhere; but I can’t do a damn thing about it.
Except a little bit about myself.
I try not to lie or do mean things.
That’s the most I’ve managed.
And I don’t succeed all the time.
Will I go to heaven or hell when I die?
People like me hope there’s no afterlife.
Not because we want to die when we die, or because we fear eternal damnation.
We hope there’s no afterlife because we can’t think how we would be of any use to God or Goodness or whatever truly Is.
We’re boring spiritual cases.
Our wisdom is half-ass.
Luckily, this story isn’t about me.
Truth be told, I don’t deserve to know it.
I’m not a plucky 1930s newsman in straight brown slacks and a sweat-soaked white button-up, or some other go-getter who went out and got the story.
The story fell onto me.
And had I at any point realized what was happening and how it would change my life, I would’ve just only ever tried to get out of the way.
But paying attention and thinking ahead are not strong suits of mine.
Now the story’s taken place; what’s done is done; if I can claim a virtue it is only this: I want to do right by this story and its characters.
As an undergraduate, I studied pre-law because my parents were lawyers and seemed happy with it and it gave us a nice house and vacations and the right kind of response when you told a classmate what your parents did for their livings.
After college, I traveled.
Europe mostly, and to a lesser extent Asia and South America.
I thought was gathering material.
To write or philosophize or something.
Even when I started the actual law degree, I felt all the time like I was secretly working on some larger, grander project.
Once out in the working world, I soon found that law didn’t agree with me.
I found that actually nothing agreed with me.
It was about that time that my parent’s started their retirement project: A coffee shop, and why don’t I manage it?
I guess it was a way to keep me afloat without out and out giving me money.
It was understood from the beginning that no one cared if the coffee shop turned a profit.
It just shouldn’t completely tank.
And I shouldn’t hit on anyone working there.
It was understood from the beginning that those were the parameters.
A good job, with a surprisingly high salary and benefits package.
And a decent title–since I could say that I was part owner of this coffee shop.
So I could put that on my dating profile.
That was pretty much how we decided it, never of course speaking it.
In my family, we all pretty much know what we’re all pretty much thinking.
Democracy might well collapse in the US and elsewhere.
Nuclear Armageddon,climate change and wars over increasingly scarce resources like fresh water and arable land–these were very much still on the table, but it was understood that I wasn’t going to do anything about them.
We all agreed that my brother would be a successful lawyer and an effective voice for social change, and that my sister would work within the UN to do what she could to bend the world away from disaster, and that they would both have wholesome family lives, and that I would mind this coffee shop and try to find a girlfriend–but not from within the employees or guests to the coffee shop–because that would make trouble.
After a year, I still hadn’t found a girlfriend, but the rest of the plan was going well.
And I’d been on a few dates.
And I’d brought my drinking down.
And I was only 32, so that was all looking pretty good.
Then she showed up for a glass of iced tea–half black and half green, with a lemon wedge.
It’s painful for me to write that.
Since when she showed up and for a long time afterwards, I wanted more than anything to play the hero to her heroine.
But that’s not the story at all.
The story is in no small part her love story, but not at all mine.
Now I’m 34 and I’m writing this story and I can’t even want a love story with me in it.
Because I’ve met her and known her and wished for her and tried for her and watched her find someone better for her and go with him.
I’ve nothing more to say about love.
It was all used up on someone destined for a better story than she could write with me.
Do you ever get the sense that no one could collaborate on a very compelling love story with you?
That’s how I feel.
Like any love story starring me is half-ass and selfish.
Because it sneaks past life, all the difficulties, all the work, all the beauty.
Because I do, and I’m not gonna stop.
So let me just tell this story.
Then I’ll pray that God either heal whatever it is that is wrong with me, or make me disappear forever.
Do you ever get the sense that you’re sick and broken and no good and just somehow unable to live in a way that is helpful to yourself or anyone else?
I try to do something about it, talk to somebody about it, but it’s like trying to tell someone about a shadow floating through your mind’s eye.
They can’t know what you mean, and you can’t either.
“Unspecified psychological distress.”
And what right do I have to burden people with my emotional hypochondria?
Everyone has little psychological bumps, lumps, bruises, aches, confusions.
They just get out of bed, stretch, and go do their best.
Why moan about asking for special treatment?
Still, between me and you, I’ll tell this story and then I ask God to heal me or make me disappear forever.
To be clear: I’m not asking to die.
I don’t ask for the impossible.
That would be just too too boring.
And I know that nothing and no one dies.
That belongs to my half-ass wisdom.
I know that no one dies, but I don’t know what to do about that.
Just as I know that Truth, and Goodness, and shared Joy are the Way, but I don’t know how to even want to be True and Good, sharing Joy and laughing in the magic Light that shines in and through all things, love-lifting us all up into a gentle, kind, friendly forever.