June 16th, 2021
Working in a bar as long as I have, I’ve heard a lot of stories.
Most of them about other human beings. Most of them some kind of drama or hardship or horror.
Quite a few of them about people who didn’t make it.
Some of the people just had bad luck, uncommonly. But most of the stories about the people who have tragically passed are the stories of a downward spiral. Of a battle. Of a war.
About a person who couldn’t beat the dark thing that lived inside of them. (Or even find ground to negotiate.) And these stories, they inevitably lead to worse ones, and the conversation invariably evolves into one of inevitably, impossible odds, “I knew it was going to happen,” “People like that don’t change.”
The next time you’re in a conversation like that, will you do me a favor? Tell them, “Actually, I know a guy…” And feel free to tell them anything you want about me.
Mind you, this isn’t about me. This is about changing the trajectory of the conversation. Instead of accepting the things that can clearly be changed, this is about injecting our words and intentions with hope.
Because you never know who is listening to those stories.
It used to be me, behind the bar, swallowing every word. Believing in the inevitability of the monster I have in me, and make no mistake: it is a monster. Rarely, if ever, did I hear these conversations steer towards the kind of compassion and happy endings that are not only possible, but the way the universe bends.
We’re not meant to be solely our worst. We are meant to make mistakes and grow and share what we know to help others who do not.
“Change or die,” I repeat to myself, like a mantra (I stole the phrase from Neil Gaiman). Maybe not literally; but the moment we decide that we can’t learn anything new in this world is the moment we stop being a living, breathing part of it.