|Pull up a stool, kid.|
Let me tell you how life can be
a real downer sometimes.
“Will you please put your laundry away?”
“NO. Daddy doesn’t put his laundry away. Why do I have to put my laundry away? I DEMAND JUSTICE!”
VIVA LA REVOLUTION!
So I spend a fair bit of time grappling with the Serenity Prayer and breaking it down for preschool ears.
Here’s the hard truth, kid: Life isn’t always fair and that’s just a fact we need to accept. Even though it’s really tough sometimes we can’t go around raging at the universe whenever we don't get our way because we need to save our energy to change the things we actually can change. And, yes, sometimes it’s tricky to tell what we can change and what we can’t. Only now isn’t one of those times so seriously put away your laundry before I start counting to three.
But I can never really convey the full weight of what I want to say to her because she's so young and here's the thing:
About five years ago I was in a crowded bar with some of my favorite people. I’d just gotten a lead on a great job, lost the baby weight, and all seemed right with the world. It was my turn to buy the pitcher for the table which meant that I had to wait around at the bar for ages because, as great as my night was, there was no way I was going to get served before the regulars and the tight black pants and tube top set. But I didn’t mind.
The guy waiting next to me struck up a conversation. His name was Billy and he had a daughter and an estranged wife living in
. He’d come to Hawaii because he’d
found work as a carpenter. He was going to send money to his family and rebuild
what he had broken. He teared up when he showed me their picture. Seattle
I knew that his background story could easily be the character sketch for the scumbag ex-husband in a Lifetime movie especially given the fact that I was pretty sure he had a dime bag in his breast pocket.
But on that night I was sure he was the down on his luck, tortured soul with a heart of gold who was on his way to making things right in his life. Billy could quote “The Princess Bride” and make ironic haikus from Dave Matthews Band lyrics. We both loved the Green Sand beach on the
He had the kind of eyes that you know truly see you and when he smiled real joy
shone through. Big Island
I totally would have sat at Billy’s lunch table and bummed a ride to the movies in his mom’s minivan.
We’d had a hard couple years, my friend Billy and me, but that night things were looking up.
Last week I was driving to Trader Joe’s. As I waited at the light to make a left turn under the bridge I saw Billy huddled next to a pylon with a hollow cheeked, shivering woman and a shopping cart piled full of soggy paper and duct-taped sleeping bags.
We locked eyes. I know he really saw me. He half smiled but there was no joy left there. I held up my hand as if to wave but then the light turned green and I had to drive on.
Serenity is hard won.