"I can't tell you how to find happiness. You can only find it if you try and don't lose faith."
I have given plenty of advice in my silly and checkered career. I've always tried to make sure it was plain and sensible. I'll never go down in history as someone great, but hey I did my part in the small corner of the Universe I could get to…
Sitting across from my friend Steve, I wait in silence. He has finished going over a bombshell while we were in a popular Pittsburgh eating establishment.(Yes, the one with those cookies.) His marriage is coming apart in a hurry. I frown in sympathy, as there is little I can say or do at this point.
"So, "he asks me in a flat tone, "do you think this is worth trying to save?"
I shake my head and light a cigarette. After a moment I look him in the eye. Steeling myself, I tell him the following:
"I can't answer that Steve. I can give advice and listen and all that. It is truly up to you though to decide."
Steve and I talked for quite some time. I'd like to think I helped in some fashion. Many a hard choice awaited him as he told me that him and his wife were going to try to make things work out. I can only hope that somehow he finds that elusive thing known as happiness.
The memories stop flowing suddenly, leaving a philosophical void. A cold thought strikes me as I am left in the darkness.
Am I finally alone?
I stop and stare at the stars about me, searching for an answer. I search a good while, with no answer forthcoming. A shudder passes through me, as I realise this just may very well signal the end.
I begin pacing, turning over the whole that is my Life. I can see it all.
Everything that was. Everthing that is. Everything that is yet to happen, yet could.
Minus any warning, I felt another memory surface. Taken aback by this episode, I let it flow unbidden.
"What do you think happens when you die? Where will I tell the kids you went?"
That little poser came to me out of the blue many years ago. I knew a couple with three (3) kids courtesy of an ex-girlfriend of mine. They were a nice couple, with deep set religious convictions. At the least we were able to discuss religion without getting nasty. Atheism is a rough thing since people like to think you are lost or going to Hell.
We were talking about things at random, and Becca asked me that one. As I never had that asked of me before I had to think a moment before the answer came.
"It is not going to matter over much. But you can tell them that I am on the last great adventure."
"There always are countless choices in Life…the trick is picking the right ones"
This little bit of advice sees much mileage. It is one of the more true statements ever I think. We all have choices to make afterall.
Lauren finishes telling me the latest chapter in the Joe and her saga. Seems that Joe is being very wishy washy on giving her a key to his apartment. In April he said he would do such, yet it is July and still no key.
In classic fashion, Lauren looks and says, "Goose, what should I do?"
Sighing, I review everything I know about this. After a moment, I look at her and ask her, "what do you want to do about it?"
Telling me some interesting things that are not fit for print, she finally says, "I love him but he is being so very frustrating. I practically live there as it is, so why is this so difficult?"
I wound up telling her to keep talking to him, not to lose her cool and the like. Communication is a key to many things, especially when someone is being gotten at by their parents. Her plan of wearing him down about said subject also sounded good.
In the end, all worked out. Lauren got her key, and to this day still says Joe is an idiot. Their relationship grows still, even with the bumps and the like along the way.
"What ever made you decide it is your job to help others?"
Shifting through the sands of Time, the answer to this poser disappeared. I have nary a clue as to why or when I started. The concept drives me though, so I stopped questioning the why and the when.
Kristen looked at me expectantly. The eighth grade, such an amusing time. Older than my years, I often found myself giving all kinds of advice. In this case, it was about a boy.
I am uncertain what I told Kristen that day. Whatever words I spoke, they produced an amusing reaction. Sans any hint of her doing it, I found myself on the receiving end of a hug. Surprised is a good term. I am just glad no one took a picture, as my facial expression surely was priceless.
Over the years, I found more and more people to talk to. I remember so many times along the journey, between friends and just random encounters. I find it silly though, not being able to remember the first time I tried to help someone.
Inhaling deeply, I assess where I find myself. Something has seriously changed in this Life, for me to find myself remembering everything. I just wish I knew why.
Sighing, I feel a chill form in me. The feeling of being alone takes hold, followed by the feeling of being useless. A chilling thought comes to mind.
Am I, in no uncertain terms, far beyond the reach of my usefulness to others in this Life?
The mere thought staggered me, almost a physical blow. I searched around me frantically for a moment, before logic kicked me in the back of the head.
Giving myself a moment, I applied myself to the problem at hand.
What has brought me here?
"How can you be so certain of your own Future? You don't know that you will wind up alone."
Unfortunately, myself know I do very well, yes. Of the many things I am in this Life, stubborn and true to myself stand out. Despite the fact that less and less people seek me for advice and the like, I feel that I am not done trying to help. I am a cosmic sort of person, constantly free of strings. I know all to well that I will be responsible for my own Future.
Sitting in the college radio station, I spotted the grad assistant for the TV studio come in. She had some question which I answered for her in short order. We got to talking about random things, as I knew her and worked with her in said studio.
After a bit, she told me about a guy she was having trouble deciding what she felt and what he was thinking. She had not seen him in a while, which just added to the chaos of it all. Catching a break in her out pouring of words, I started telling her a few hard won lessons I had learned.
To illustrate my point, I cast about for something as a visual aid. Snatching up my fake Mardi Gras beads I looked at her and began jumbling them about.
"Kristen, you have grown to, "I spoke, making as convincing looking imitation of the chaos in her head with those beads as I could, "accustomed to craziness of the situation. Step back and look at it all over again."
Kristen thought what I said through. She smiled and thanked me, then was off. Smiling as well, I felt that I had done something right, that I had made the Future a little easier to write for her.
Turning, I desperately tried remembering what I had been up to…
"John, you are an angel."
I always turn as red as the lobster in the boiling pot at that one. I am not a divine power, nor am I religious by any stretch of the imagination. Simply, I am someone who tries to help, to listen, to do whatever. Nothing special nor famous, just me, attempting to do right.
My poor friend Cyndi, telling me the latest in her saga. Yet another goofball decided to take interest in her. During this conversation I learned a good deal of things. One of the multitude of things learned: Somehow she was a freak magnet.
I listened carefully to her. Conversing first online at a BBS system run by Chas, who introduced us, the both of us had just recently met in person. Pondering away, I jumped in at a given moment.
"This will all change when you get to college my dear. Of this I am certain."
Naturally, she disagreed with that sudden statement. I stood to on the statement, no matter what agrument she presented. In the end the topic shifted and we continued on as before.
Years later, I reminded her of the fact. We both had a good laugh about me making a prediction and it coming true. Cyndi did turn the table on me, reminding me that hope existed for me as well. I laughed…
Smiling at the last batch of memories, the cold and fear disappear a moment. Clearing my head to think, I stare off into space around me.
Just today I had gotten into an email match with a friend. She bluntly informed me that I was being both stubborn and stupid about my stand in this Life. A quote about being a young soul, not knowing what I am and being so afraid of change leap to mind as well.
In short she called me out for my thoughts and my inflexibility. Perhaps, just perhaps a key could be located to why I found myself in this place.
Forcing the pace, I jumped started my memories….waiting
"Compromise is a weak stand and I do not like it."
Words are just words some of the time. Other times, words having meaning, a force, a sense of place. In this case, words form a concrete statement of my Life. In the ultimate irony, the number of times compromise featured in my advice…well that number defies calculation.
Listening, a good friend explained her financial woes. Seems that her ex left her and drained her bank account, right before Christmas. There would be no Santa for her little boy, as her next pay check would not be issued til the week after.
After a moment's silence, I was in like a shot with a solution simply saying, "How much money do you need?"
Naturally a figure of $150 dollars was provided. I thought a moment before saying to her, "I happen to have the money. Let me get it to you."
My friend fought me tooth, nail plus a few broken bones. Standing firm, I managed to wear her into submission. Amazing thing and occassionally useful, my intense stubborness.
I informed her that under no circumstances was I accepting repayment. She tried and tried, to no avail. I freely decided to give a gift for the holiday season, end of the discussion.
After the fact I found myself explaining the fact of gift giving. She offered several different takes on a repayment. Each time, I had to break it to her that I would violate the Rules of Engagement and Code of Conduct I operate under. Should I violate either or both, seriously bad things would occur.
Tempted as I was by the one offer, (I am male after all) I did not compromise my stand.
"Where is it written that guys and girls can not just be friends?"
A bane of my existence, modern Life. The perceptions I stumble across in large segments of people astound and underwhelm me. Too many times I find people seeing only in black and white, not the full 16.8 million colours of Life. Little wonder I go about fuxing perceptions for people.
Vacation, a wonderful time to get away from the entire insanity of one's Life. In this case, the location a new one, Mamoth Caves Kentucky. A fun getaway with a friend, ending in a wedding.
Before heading off to the wedding in Kingsport, TN, my friend and I broke camp. Her idea and a good saving of money, camping out in the Mamoth Caves park. Megan and I each had our very own tents to snore away in.
The day promised warm, really warm temperatures. Running off fairly quickly, the shower my destination and perhaps a swift kick to wake up. I left Megan to the fun task of taking down the tents. Simply stated, she could get down both in the time I might get one down.
Returning and feeling slightly human, I assisted with the breaking of camp. In my haste of getting things stuff in my car, I barely noticed a lady from another camp talking to Megan. She was gone fairly quickly, so I hardly registered the occurrence.
Megan informed me later of her conversation with the lady. Apparently, she thanked Megan and I for showing her teenage daughter guys and girls could be friends without anything happening between them. Stunned for a moment, I suffered a rare speechless moment. Thankfully, sans Megan, no other witness to my speechlessness exists.
As a corolary, a dear friend of mine and myself finds ourselves constantly telling people, no, we have never, are not and not going to ever date or be in a relationship. Each time I find myself still throughly amazed people think that, with no other reason than 'guys and girls can't just be friends'. Silly in a way, the general accepted princple that some never see past…
Puzzled as the memory ended, I attempted switching logical thinking in. The subject matter on the last two memories simply felt odd. Why, I wondered, would those two appear in my stream of thought?
Once again I felt the thrill of a challenge. Perhaps the elusive answer to this was in here somewhere. Logically, no other possibility existed, despite the total illogic of this fine situation.
I cast my eyes about me once again. Looking for a long time, I moved off to my left. Perhaps something in a different direction