How odd that we most need help when we are least capable of asking for it. I am grateful the bad weather did not blow in yesterday, for I felt that I had to get home. I needed the emotional stabilization that comes from family.
I don’t know why. Nothing has happened recently that is in the least out of the ordinary. My circumstances are lonley, but not exceptionally so this week. My work can leave me feeling unappreciated, but this last week has been to my liking. Yet I felt like one paused on the threshold Desperation, looking back onto gray empty streets for some glimpse of Reason or Virtue, about to plunge into Abandon, whereby successive permissions purchase regret. My only enemy was myself, and I did not know where my adversary stood.
I was too cowardly to mention any of this. The exorcists of the clan are efficient; to a convolution of sophistications, factors, variables, nuances, and interpretations, they are Alexandrian. Those who fear the sword will hide their knotty problems. I had no Great Temptation, no momentous Issue; to expose my trivial wrestlings to such harsh light might give the impression I committed more grevious sin than was the case.
I had a friend for a time who did not need to be invited to unmask my anxieties. My friend would deftly find the weak spot in my edifice and work at it until the whole facade of adaptation crumbled away and I was left staring at my own naked resentment or fear. But I built this friend into a most beautiful relief, so in the last crumbling the friendship too was destroyed.
Since that time I have found another friend, whom I like to regard as a charicature of myself: fantastically vain, petty, conceited, lacking in self control. Also as vulnerable as a chick freshly tumbled from the shell, still wet. In point of fact, bipolar.
Such a liar as this man is, I regard the story of his life as partly a fable. To me he resorts almost exclusively to omissions and sometimes exaggerations. When I met him I could see through his fabrications as I might read my own diary. I have seem him less and less, by divurging circumstances, but when I last saw him he was so manic that I thought it completely faked, and kept expecting for the true depression to emerge from billowing clouds of dust as his Imperial constructions of Parisian plaster collapse. I heard how, in the interim since the last time I had spoken with him, he had made another attempt at suicide; and, after recovering, how he completed his undergraduate program at an intense accelerated pace.
And so for all I know he could be dead now. I don’t know what the power is of the illness that holds him, but I know that nervous, shiftless excitement, the need for distraction or sedation, while it may continue for a fantastic period of months or even perhaps years, can never last.
It may be you can measure my selfishness by how little I worry for this friend. It is true that he rarely responds to written words and not much more to telephone contact, but it is also true that I very seldom even attempt. This man is on a certain path of destruction, and I can no more save him than he can save himself. When I am with him I try to pare down to true questions, for in moral matters true answers are always apparent in well-put questions; there is never a lack of knowledge, only an unwillingness to entertain the right question. But as magnets may be forced pole to pole, though they repel, they will not connect in any meaningful way until the pressure is released and they spin to in an inversion, so my best attempts to match evil with its genesis and hope with its revelation have never accomplished more than a momentary and artificial congruity, quickly twisted according to natural inclination to a mispurpose of my effort.
For all the futility of my efforts, one does not neglect to hold a hand out to a drowning man simply because he cannot reach that far, or he may choose not to reach. Among all those I meet–let us say those at work, since I meet them most–I assiduously avoid preaching any kind of judgement unless I think there will be repentance, just a trice shy of never. I have avoided the sin of Jonah, perhaps, but not attained to the service of Isaiah, either.
I at one time considered it a deficiency of my family that they did not reach in without invitation to diagnose my malaise, and send me on my way probed, prodded, examined, and prescribed, by impulse of familial concern for my spiritual and emotional health. But I have always been a moper, since before I would have thought to assign any spiritual aspect to my maladies, and I am always perplexed when I see someone demonstrate an understanding and compassion for the concerns of another without there being any pathos or resonant circumstances between the two to generate the kind of sympathy that beats in my heart.
It is true that love may prompt this gift to be given unasked, and always undeserved. It is also self-love that could imagine that it should be given unasked, unearned.
May Father forgive me for not asking.