Frank Pauc is a good friend and we meet on a regular basis for beer and nuts, doing our best to solve the world’s problems and our own. Once our whiskers are wet we get going. Nothing wrong with that. So I thought I’d share some random thoughts and observations. I’ll ask Frank to read this before sending it on to The Havok Journal in case my memory isn’t always accurate (I’m twenty years his senior). And I’m probably adding things that were never said, but next week it can be his turn.
We share the aches and pains of life and our talks aren’t bitch sessions. Otherwise, one or the other of us could stay home, tossing back a couple of drinks in our favorite living room chair, and then go curse at our reflection in the bathroom mirror. Admittedly, that’s not necessarily a bad idea, it’s part of Primal Scream Therapy. But it’s best to be young and in good shape if you want to go down that rabbit hole.
I doubt that we’re going to solve any problems and we realize that. Nevertheless, we come away with something and it’s not sharing the other’s burden or carrying his load. I think it’s something deeper. Sharing in the struggle to stay human, to see goodness and kindness in the world and in others. To come away cleaner after the last nut is crunched and the last drop is squeezed from the can. And, without verbalizing it, I think we both realize this, the bottom line of being human is to be able to empathize.
Talking with each other keeps us honest. We can always hoodwink ourselves but verbalizing bullshit to a friend doesn’t fly. You know it before the words pass your clenched teeth. Guess I’m suggesting it wouldn’t be a bad idea to find a buddy with whom you can talk on a regular basis.
We didn’t start with serious shit, more sharing stories, family events, bumps in the road, ditches struggled across and then being willing to listen to the reruns. We must be willing to talk and listen. Like on a see-saw, moving in and out closer to the midpoint when one or the other is carrying something heavy in his backpack. We manage to do that.
OK. I’ll share some of the serious stuff, and maybe not say if it was me or Frank doing the talking. It could be you or your friend. And the reruns are still exciting since we never seem to find an answer.
Problem one: “God always seems to be testing me.”
“I’m getting tired of it.”
“Can’t blame you. But maybe God is telling you that you have the strength to pass.”
“I don’t think so. Besides, I’m tired and truthfully don’t care anymore.”
“Hmm. I guess that wouldn’t be fair, sure you don’t have the strength?”
“Not all the time!”
That’s condensed and called for a few sips and a couple of nuts.
Problem two: “God always seems to be using me as a straight man, and I’m no longer getting the joke.”
“You don’t think that’s funny?”
“No. That kind of comedy gets stale, fast.”
“I can understand that. Like ‘Man proposes and God disposes.’”
“Yeh, clever the first couple of times, but then it gets boring. You’d think God could afford better writers.”
“Why, when he’s got us.”
“Oh. So all of this is our own doing?”
“Maybe, but I just don’t see it.”
“That could also be true.”
Solved – problem one and problem two. Maybe. But our session didn’t end that way. We shrugged our shoulders and decided to soldier on. A good trick since Frank flew Blackhawks and I was an anti-Vietnam-war guy. But it seems better this way.
Bottom line. We both listened to each other and realized once again that life is complex and that like the Beetles sang: “We all get by with the help of our friends.”
I just wanted to share something, to reach out and let you all know that we’re all fighting the good battle, trying to stay real, doing our best to be human, and opening up our hearts, doing random acts of kindness. It’s the very struggle itself that will get us through. We reach out and share, knowing that we’re here for each other. Beer and nuts help, or maybe not. Could be we’re being tested or asked to act the straight man the next time the curtain comes up.
Best wishes for a pleasant and safe summer.
Ken was a Professor of Mathematics, a ceramicist, a welder, and an IBMer until downsized in 2000. He taught yoga until COVID-19 decided otherwise. He continues writing, living with his wife and beagle in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He enjoys chamber music and mysteries. He’s a homebrewer and runs whitewater rivers. Ken is a writer and his literary works can be found at https://www.kmkbooks.com/
He welcomes feedback on his articles and can be reached at email@example.com.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.