What I ate for breakfast wasn’t all that healthy – two eggs, over easy, hash browns, bacon and toast. But the words that filled the air over that breakfast might have been the healthiest I’ve had in years.
I met with a friend this morning, and I didn’t know what we’d talk about. I never do, but it’s always good, and it’s always interesting. And I always walk away feeling better than I felt walking in.
I’m not going to write about what we talked about because it’s deeply personal, and I don’t have permission to share its contents publicly. I’m not sure I would any way, because some things, I think, have to remain between the people who share them. But I will say that it was the sort of conversation that doesn’t happen very often. The sort of conversation that, without the other person even really knowing it, reaches its arms around your fallen-over soul, holds it for a couple moments, and sets it back up where it belongs.
It seems to me that so much of life is spent avoiding any talk about the darker parts of our lives. Yet that is really where we build true and honest connections with others, isn’t it? We spend so much time and energy avoiding any acknowledgement of those things. We don’t want others to see them. We don’t want to see them, think about them, wrestle with them, analyze them, or call them what they are. Instead, we ignore them and hide those things, and spend a great deal of time talking about anything else that will keep those parts of ourselves hidden away, in the hope that no one else will ever see them. Because that is normal. And God do we ever want to be normal, as it’s so neatly and clearly defined for us by everyone else in the world who is also trying so hard to be normal and not let you see any of their shit.
The eggs and bacon and hash browns were very good. I do love a good breakfast. But that conversation did more to fill me up and start my day on the right path than the food. And I suspect it will sustain me much longer.
I can’t thank my friend enough for his time and his words this morning. I think that’s mostly what I wanted to do here. I don’t think I’ll ever forget how much it meant to me that my friend was willing to share his story with me. By talking with me about even the ugly parts of his life, he made me feel like my ugly parts aren’t so hideous and that there’s hope I am, or can be, more than the parts of myself I fear the most.
There’s a lot of screwed up things in the world, and a lot of problems that we don’t know how to solve. I am on a drug task force that’s examining what can be done about Hutchinson’s serious and growing drug problem. Through the first several months, it seems like an impossibly big task, likely with no clear solution.
But there is a theme that I see, and it’s one I think can be addressed in a very small, but important way. It seems to me that at the core of drug addiction and substance abuse is the idea the addict holds that he or she isn’t loved, welcomed, understood, appreciated, or valued. They feel alone, and ostracized. They live with their guilt and shame, and they are acutely aware of how the rest of the world sees them, judges them, and casts them aside. And while that’s not universally the case, and it’s not likely the end-all solution to understanding all this, it seems that it plays a critical role in all of this. But maybe an honest conversation that says “hey, you’re really not all that different from me,” or “so you’ve sort of screwed up for a while, but you’re not so horrible that we can’t be friends,” or “You know what, I’ve done things I’m not proud of either” would do a little good.
I don’t like Kanye West – I think he’s a pompous, grandstanding ass. But I’ve always liked this song, every since another friend thought I should hear it.