You said you would be delighted if I would visit. And now I'm here, you have toasted my presence almost every night. I suppose I forgot what that means, your being delighted. It does not appear to be the kind of mirth those around you can share.
It's not like you raised a glass in a toast with me.
And perhaps you have no reason to be delighted. You are dying, it's true. And the odds being what they are, you will probably be dead before most of the people around you.
And other than the anger and annoyance that you express, and the concern about my son that you share from time to time, I wonder if you might drink because that's simply how you've trained yourself to deal with—or is it avoid—the other emotions that arise in human being.
And I think of the stories I created, in this case, “If you really loved me, you'd spend the time to figure out what I need. You'd find a way to break through my walls.” This was not directed specifically at you, but pretty much the whole world. I had the good fortune to get past that one. I realized that when I pushed people away enough, they just went away. I think I might have got that one from you. That maybe you are still testing people's love, and they'll never be able to prove it to you.
The thing is that's a lonely place to be, and I usually went there because I didn't have the balls to say things like “I'm scared,” “I don't know,” “I feel so alone,” “I'm lost,” or simply “Help.”
I also got angry with the world, and angry with myself, and I am really good at beating myself up about the things I've messed up, and the success I've failed to achieve, and the opportunities I haven't appreciated, or missed in the moment.
And sometimes I'm pretty sure I'm just a big strew-up, and it's too late, and I wonder that, knowing what I do about myself, anyone would love me at all.
But I've learned about that too. It's not my privilege to decide who is going to love me, or respect me, or want to spend time with me. My only job really is to accept the gifts of love and respect and time if people want to give it.
And sometimes it's about giving the people around me the opportunity to be for me.
It's about asking the shoulder to cry on when I need it. It's about asking for the time and the care and the attention, the hug, the ear, the listening. Because those things are out there for the price of a question.
Sometimes it's about telling people it's painful for me to watch you destroy yourself. I watch you fight to live, only to lock yourself away somewhere that doesn't look a lot like living to me.
So, I'm a coach, and I'm really a pretty amazing coach when people let me, and I'm going to offer my “eitzis” and you can do what you want with it.
But I'm also going to tell you if you don't do something, I'll be slower to come back to be a part of this.
So here's what you can do.
Talk to someone, anyone, but actually talk about what's so.
We've spoken about your own body's disposal on your demise. Why do you think it came up? Because sometimes a Jew looks at how he's supposed to deal with these things. Judaism actually has a formula for dealing with loss and grief. I wonder if you ever got it complete with the things you've lost. Maybe find a guide and do the work.
And now I'll get specific to your case. The next time you go for a drink, take out a pen instead. Answer one of these, or all of them:
- What is it I might want right now that I'm substituting with this drink?
- What is it I want to say that I am not saying?
- What is it that I want that I am not requesting?
- What is it I want to request?
- What is it I'm afraid to ask?
- What is it I'm afraid to admit?
- What is it I don't want to confront?
- What is it I wish I could know?
- What is it that I want another person to know?
- What is it I want another person to understand?
- What is it I wish I knew?
- What is it I wish I could understand?
- With whom would I most like to share right now?
- With whom would I like to spend some time?
- What would I like to share?
- Who deserves my gratitude?
- Whom would I like to talk to?
- Whose hand could I hold?
- At what am I angry?
- What saddens me?
- What's frustrating me?
- In whose lap would I like to sit right now
- With whom would I like to laugh?
- Who could understand and cry with me?
- What do I wish I could just one more time again?
These are big questions. And it takes a certain amount of courage to even ask them. For some there is no answer. Some may take you places you don't want to go, but that's okay too. Our job—your job if you are willing to give it a shot—is to just ask, and then be with what comes up.
But here's the thing. Without the pain, you can't have the happiness either. Without letting the heart break, you can't have the first kiss again. Without the lonely, you can't know the love. But you need to give all of these things the place to be.
Of course, you can also choose to short circuit the whole system, but that's probably not the wisest way to be.
And I don't know if you can hear it, and I don't know if you care about wisdom any more. And, believe it or not, all I want for you is a little more access to happiness, and presence to the love in your life. And I'm frustrated I've never been able to give you that. And I'm tired. And I have other people to take care of as well.
And I don't know where that leaves us.
Except maybe that I invite you to look at what you could do to be the kind of delighted that people can be delighted along with you.