We will never know for certain how, when, or where the wind will blow our fortunes
This morning, I received an email from a long-time friend of mine who I consider one of the most interesting, energetic, idea-birthing, entrepreneurial people I’ve known. We met some 40 years ago when we were both very idealistic federal employees in Washington, full of our own BS and self-importance.
Over the ensuing four decades, much changed in our respective lives and, aside from drifting apart geographically, we took hold of different political poles. Nonetheless, our friendship did not suffer, and I am grateful that we remain confidants and pals. In his email, my friend shared the burdens of his self-doubt and sense of failure to achieve the dreams he’d so earnestly labored to make real. Such doubts and sense of failure are common to both of us, though I, his senior by seven years, seem to have crossed over the “fraud” line into a life of acceptance. Herewith is my reply to my friend of enduring value.
I struggle with a reply to your email, not because it is hard to find the right words, but because it is hard to contain all the words that are begging to be poured out on these pages (or on this screen). What I don’t want to do is load this missive down with the freight of pablumic phrases, false equivalences, or intellectually-insulting comparisons that are so often tendered by well-meaning friends who are sincere, but misguided in their efforts to bolster the spirits of an emotionally adrift pal.
The easy phrase is not for you
It would be all-to-easy for some folks to say, “Hey, buck up, I’ve been there too,” when it comes to responding to your assessment of where you are at 66. Conversely, it would be easy for some folks to say, “Gee, you’ve had a rough go of it, but don’t beat yourself up…you fought hard in that arena and you gave it your all every time.” Whenever I hear that from a well-meaning person, I imagine they are about to hand me a Teddy Roosevelt trophy for participating in life.
They miss the point…they always do. The pain we feel when we don’t meet our own expectations, particularly when those expectations are constructed with cozy…