#3: Laura Munson herself. Just moments after I joined Twitter (yes, I am a twit!), in order to bring this blog into the 21st century, she had both replied to my tweet and forwarded it to everyone in her loyal following. And she called this a "piece of loveliness." I have never been more humbled by or grateful for public recognition. Her writing has wowed me, and I encourage you to check out her blog.
#4: Inspired by the comment from "B." yesterday, my amazing friend who has been fighting cancer and other of life's great injustices and tragedies but who has remained selfless, grateful, humble and positive. If I had been dealt but a fraction of her pain and suffering -- physically, emotionally or mentally, I would surely fall. I know for certain that I would be bitter; that I would feel victimized and violated. She feels empowered, and she is strong. Stronger than most of us could ever hope to be; stronger than you could ever imagine. She's an inspiration to me to take things in stride and to remain humble, grateful and happy regardless of what happens to me.
#5: "Since You Asked" writer Cary Tennis. Prompted by frequently crazy and often curious questions, he answers his readers with kindness and dignity. But as both a man who is fighting chordoma (a rare malignant tumor on the spine/base of the skull) and a recovering alcoholic, his insights are deeper and smarter than you could ever imagine. And, given the hand he's been dealt in life, not just poignant but full of humility. Two gems that touched me over the last 24 hours:
- I had a vision the other day, like a waking dream, of how it feels like to be me, what my working life feels like. And it's like I'm sitting at a desk in a long hallway and the hallway is full of people shuffling along, all kinds of people, there's a guy with a parrot in a birdcage and there's a woman in a sparkly acrobat swimsuit-type thing juggling bowling pins and a clown and a busker and some tumblers and a guru with a long beard sitting cross-legged who has to get up every time the line moves and you'd think he'd be grumbling and maybe he is but you can't tell because of the long beard, and there's a young kid with a guitar and a housewife in an apron and a psychiatrist stroking his beard and some kids with a dog and a hula hoop and the line goes down the hall and down the stairs and out to the street, and as each person comes up to me I hand them a yellow 3-by-5 card and say, "Quit drinking. See a therapist. Next."
That's all I say, over and over, is, "Quit drinking. See a therapist. Next."
And that's my life.
And it's really stupid because half the people in line don't really need to quit drinking. It's just my focus. Because who needs to quit drinking? I need to quit drinking. So I quit. A long time ago. But I tell everybody to quit drinking because that's my tiny little world.
So I could say that to you, not that you need to quit drinking or anything really. But [I] think the vast majority of people who write to me do so because they have something to figure out that they can't figure out on their own, and it's the kind of thing that doesn't just have one set answer. It's part of a pattern of living…
[I]f you want to have a halfway decent and happy life…you need to get into therapy and figure out what the hell is going on that you would be thinking of doing this thing. If you knew what was propelling you in that direction you might understand what is going on in your own marriage… [T]he pattern here is too much.
See a professional. I'm not a professional anything. I am just a person with an Internet connection. You should see a professional. But here is what I think anyway. I think that before you do this you need to figure out why you want to do it…
We don't realize what we're doing. Precisely because we can hurt people so grievously when we don't know what we're doing, it's our responsibility to know what we're doing. It's our responsibility to look at all the angles. Self-knowledge is not just a luxury. It's more a responsibility. It's like learning to drive right so you don't run people down.
So as you come down the hall, and stop at my desk, and ask me this complicated question, I just do what I always do, I write something on the card, hand you the card and say, Quit drinking. See a therapist.
You're probably a swell guy and all, but the reasons and implications for all these things need to be teased out.
So quit drinking and see a therapist.
- I find your thinking admirable. I am drawn to think with you about these things. But as you say, you think so much because you feel so much. It is your feeling that is driving you to ask what the hell is going on in your boyfriend's head.
Of course you are concerned. It sounds like he is trying to warn you that one day he is going to see some woman and make a calculation and dump you on the spot. So for him to say confidently that the calculation could never work out in her favor sounds hollow. How does he know, once he starts calculating, how the numbers will add up? And what is he to do if they don't add up the way he expects? It is not enough, now that he has brought it up, for him to claim that he would not be swayed. We know that logical thought is no match for the passions.
But that is just the danger of talking about this. It can't be decided or figured out. It was a bad choice. But part of its being a bad choice, and of his boneheaded insistence on a weak argument, may be that he is just a guy. Sometimes we have to let people be not quite so good as we wish they were in order that they can be who they are.
This I know: At times I am just a guy. World peace is important but sometimes I want to be just a guy on his way to a baseball game. And maybe he would like you to acknowledge that most people have this side, that we will walk by the Ferrari in the window and we will think about what it would be like to have one and if the opportunity ever arose ... well, we think about things. But if we are wise we keep these thoughts to ourselves.
I admire you greatly. Your prose, your mind, your high ideals. I admire you. My advice would be to be careful around your boyfriend because he is indeed telling you something about the pressures and longings he feels, but he is also just being himself, and may just have been having a bad day. So if he could just apologize and the both of you could just back away slowly from the unprovable philosophical proposition, you'd be better off.
Leave your own reminders to be grateful and humble in the comments.