Sunday, December 6, 2009

An Open Letter to a Friend

The last time I saw you, you were already different. You were already getting colder, and I saw your disdain for my words slip past that thin, collected surface a couple times. I was startled by this. I knew it was possible you would choose this path, but I didn't expect it so suddenly. So, why? What's the allure for you?

Our meetings used to be filled with chatter and laughter and heart-opening. Warmth. But this one felt more like a chess match, dry and strategic. And while I was not anxious, I was unsure of my next move, and of why I was being forced to strategize instead of just talk. I should have overturned the table. I should have told you that you were full of shit.

You asked me if I thought someone had to be selfish in order to be successful. I asked you if you were willing to give it up if it started to destroy your life. Neither of us gave a straight answer: you, because you really wanted to say "no" but didn't want to say it to my face; and me, because I was still hoping against hope that it wasn't as bad as it already was. So does someone have to be selfish to be successful? Of course not. Is it easier to win kitschy trophies and stand on little platforms waving at crowds of dying people, than to labor unnoticed for a yet unseen eternal reward? Absolutely.

So, why? What's the allure for you?

I have some ideas of what you would say, if you could look me in the eye instead of studying the ground in front of you. If you would answer when I call. If you would show up. I have some ideas because I gave up what mattered for what felt good once. I was hurting, like you are. I was weak, like you are. I was like a diabetic eating cake for every meal. I was born sick, but I was making myself sicker.

You left suddenly that day, after a brief smirk at something I had said. I saw it for what it was - the flailing of a child who was taught to perform for love, and is terrified by anything else - and it didn't hurt me. I asked you when I'd see you again, and the look on your face finally confirmed what I had been denying. We would never talk openly again. I don't remember your words. They didn't matter. I sat down and cried when you walked away.

You can still come back, my friend. My heart would be filled with laughter and my eyes with tears of joy. Do you want me to say that I'm giving up on you? Do you want me to believe it's hopeless? Would that be easier for you? Well, I will not. Peace and healing await you here.

In the movie "Catch Me If You Can," the main character is writing home to his father after initiating a life of crime in a desperate attempt to reunite his estranged family and regain some sense of home. "Dad, you always said that an honest man has nothing to fear. So I'm trying really hard not to be afraid."

Quit trying not to be afraid. Try being honest.

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