(press play for audio)
**Against my better judgment and at the insistence of my muse, I confess…**
For the second time in my life, I’m homeless. Though the circumstances are different (I was newly sober then and I have 14 years now), the effects are the same. I have no address, no house, no home, no space to call my own. What I do have is a bed, the generosity of a friend and the internet. Imagine life without online. That’s worse than prison. Trust me, two years in China beyond the Great Firewall without Facebook or Youtube taught me that. The bed isn’t half bad, really. There’s a comfort and a privacy here that I’ve come to realize is awfully important for a man my age. My own bathroom would be nice, but a shower is a luxury and makes my life easy. Living abroad taught me something about how good I have it at home, even if the home is not my own. I don’t live underground in a cave. I’m not without running water and I’m not without warmth. If I were, that would be much worse.
Friends, trying to be a comfort, are at a loss. They’re full of optimism and well wishing but they aren’t full of reality. Maybe that’s good. Maybe that’s better because my reality, through my lenses, is bleak. As my head sees it this isn’t the storm before the still. This isn’t the rain before the sun’s rise. This is the end of the line. This is fourteen years of soul searching, scouring and casting aside. This is fourteen years of agonizing growth with nowhere to go and very little to show. This is Spain and China and eye opening and soul awakening emptiness. This is being aware of how bad it can get yet knowing it could get a whole lot worse. “Nothing is so bad that a drink won’t make it worse” is a saying heard around the rooms of recovery and it’s true. As dark as this is, things could be much darker.
I tug and challenge between how bad things are and how much worse they can be. I tell myself I’ll starve, that I’m facing famine and then I’ll feast. The meals keep coming and that’s good because without meals I wouldn’t last very long. Every day it seems, quietly and without much explanation, I keep getting taken care of. Friends come through. It’s not that they pay my bills, although they do, it’s that they’re there. They quiet my head and make me still. You see, I’m convinced this is my failing and my fault, a product of productive living and unproductive giving. An outcome of faithless faith and graceless grace. A culmination of culling and cutting and writing and trying to rid myself of selfishness, judgment, intolerance, a childlike and annoying need to be right, high expectations of others, impossible expectations of myself and an all around ungrateful attitude for how much better I’ve had it then I deserve because, let’s face it, with a past like mine I don’t deserve much. Luckily, I get mercy and not justice. Justice, or getting what I deserve, I want no part of because I deserve the worst. Mercy? I want for miles and in millions.
Friends who are far and unfamiliar with my safari or unaccustomed with my odyssey will ask what I’m up to, as though being up to something guarantees good fortune. When I say I’m having trouble with trusting God, they hear “I’m doing nothing and up to no good.” I don’t bother to tell them I’m looking for work, submitting resumes, filling out applications and following up because I doubt they’d understand if I did. Faith without works is dead but sometimes faith followed up by action is fruitless. In their defense, they mean well, and probably, based on their experience, their actions are always accompanied by accomplishment. I’m sure mine will be too, as persistence always seems to pay off, but the time it takes to pay is sometimes unpredictable. I wish I could do a better job of remembering that remark. Instead, lately, the best I can do is wander in the dark.