I had breakfast this morning with a friend, a young man less than half my age, who I met by happenstance some months ago. We ran into each other at a local eatery and at first sight, I could tell that all was not well in his world.
“Good to see you,” I said. “How are you?”
“Oh, fine,” he replied. “Nothing to complain about.”
But I could look through him and see the eyes of a deeply-wounded person. A victim. A suddenly lost soul.
“Come on Paul, you don’t look like all’s fine.”
He knew I wasn’t letting go. After a pause, a sigh, a look up and down, he released the secret.
“My girlfriend left me and I’m kinda bummed,”
He said her decision took him by surprise and left him pole-axed, a singular figure where there used to be a couple. Alone in the most magical time of the year, lovely and romantic Christmas songs painting each scene, every moment.
All around us there are the walking wounded, hiding their fears, tears, loneliness, disappointments. They don’t want others to know, lest it damage their image, their personnas and even worse they may have to admit it to themselves and act.
The protection they have is, that for the most part, no one really cares. When we ask “How are you?”, the last thing we want is the truth. That takes time and work and heart and generosity and we are all way too busy for. Just as the rain camouflages our tears, the superficiality behind the gestures of concern, leave us free to fool the world as we seek, unsuccessfully, to fool ourselves.
Life is so lovely and at times, so strange.