Taking the challenge out of life also largely takes the fun out of it as well. Don’t get me wrong here; I’m most thankful for an indoor job, and the ability to provide for my family it affords me. I’m saying that if we aren’t on guard against it that it’s altogether too easy to wake up one day as Miss Havisham (from Great Expectations), wondering why life seems to be something that happens to someone else (just not, you know, us).Continue Reading...
Archives For fear
Looking in the mirror and what do I see?
Whose is this face staring back at me?
Familiar in outline, but foreign in detail
Craggy, careworn features all over prevail
But who is he?
Is this me?
Inside, he feels the same small boy
Curious, quick, and ruddy of mind
Rich inside life bringing joy
But somewhere, having lost track of time
The visage reflected, as in a mirror darkly
Yet somehow still so very, very starkly
Shows one thing above all others:
The face is
How are you?
It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?
I know, I know… You think I’ve forgotten about you.
That’s really not true. Like the Willie Nelson song says, “You were always on my mind.”
It’s not that; it’s just that there have been other things on my mind.
Like exercise. You’re right–it’s been three years now since I started exercising regularly. (I still have a “dad bod”). That takes time–and energy.
Then there are other things–more important things. Like my wife’s health. She’s probably going to need two serious surgeries. And my own sleep apnea all but kicking my butt. My son growing up, spreading his wings, about to fly the coop.
And there are job stresses. We’ve reorganized, transitioned to a Shared Services model of IT support, and reorganized again. I’m left, for all intents and purposes, right where I was before. Things were said, promises made, but it all fizzled out. Yes, I’m pretty good at what I do. It’s not that. It’s that by being good at what I do I’ve painted myself into a corner.
But mostly, I’ve been afraid. Afraid I didn’t have anything to say, afraid to say what was on my mind, afraid of change, afraid of not changing, afraid of the uncertainty around my wife’s health. When the fears ramp up, all my latent insecurities bubble up to the surface. Leading me to irrational places. It’s true what they say about fear; that by-and-large it’s False Evidence Appearing Real. Like when a friend didn’t return a text, did I assume this person was just busy and/or presently unavailable. No, sadly I went to so-and-so-just-must-be-blocking-me-in-iMessage.
I was just so sure of it.
You might judge me, or consider me pathetic. Lord knows I do much of the time. I’m particularly good at beating myself up.
Everything is up in the air, in transition, but at the same time other things feel as if they’ll never change. And I don’t know to make them change–or how to change me.
I feel stuck. Running to stand still, never catching up.
Stuck, and afraid.
It was as I passed through this day, scurrying from a lunchtime game of racquetball, on my way to grab a bite, that I was brought up short. Working in an urban environment for a great number of years now, I’m somewhat inured to the plight of my less fortunate fellow man, to the human pain and tragedy which faces me daily. Yet there was something about this man, something in his careworn face, in the cornflower blue of his eyes, that stopped me. I think it was the eyes, how they reminded me of my grandfather’s. Eyes which had seen so much pain, heartache, loss, had seen accident, illness, injury. The eyes of an alcoholic, spidery veins zig-zagging around the nose between and beneath them.
Eyes which somehow still had a sparkle, a twinkle of mirth and mischief, to them.
So I stopped. He said something; I didn’t catch it.
“You think I’m homeless. I’m from Las Vegas. I had a seizure this morning. Listen, I’m an alcoholic. I need beer. I feel another seizure coming on. I’ll be a big one.”
“I don’t have any cash.”
“You’ve got a card, right? Please, I need your help.”
The naked, plaintive need was plain for me to see, but my mind was a whirling chiaroscuro of conflicting thoughts. On the one hand, I wanted to believe him, but on the other I’ve been burned enough by similar situations over the years to have developed a veneer of cynicism. I was on my way back to work, with my credentials on display. I couldn’t be seen buying beer.
“Listen,” I said. “There’s a Chipotle right there. They have single serve.”
Clutching his weather worn leather bag a little tighter, the man with eyes like my grandfather’s replied, “I’m not going in Chipotle.”
“They’ve got beer.”
“I just need a couple bucks.”
“I’m sorry,” I said, walking away.
I saw him again a short time later, in line behind me at the drugstore where I picked up a prepackaged lunch. He didn’t seem to recognize me, asking about how I was, how my day was going. In his hand was a six-pack of Busch beer. I went back to my busy workaday world.
I’ve wondered about that man.
I keep asking myself, “What would Jesus do?”
What would He have done?
I don’t know how to answer that. Maybe I never will. Jesus did turn water into wine to keep a party going, but would He have given this man that for which he’d asked? Knowing that it was killing him daily by degrees? I wish I had the faith of Peter and John, could shout, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee. I the name of Jesus Christ…”
But I didn’t.
What would you have done?