I can’t even pretend to know what you are going through.

I can’t even pretend to know what you are going through. The only thing that we have in common is that we are both human beings on this earth. Beyond this, I can’t assume that you share a common sense of what really matters. If I were to presume I knew what really mattered, and attempt to convince you to agree with me, I might be accessing some area of privilege or asserting some kind of arrogance to tell you how and why you need to change your life.

Instead, I will simply assume that you are a human being who knows how to read these words. Within these words, I hope to inject some kind of sense of my own living humanity–I don’t want these to be dead words, distant words, or words that present an obstacle for you to understand.

When I spend so much time describing what I have been through and what I’m going through, I hope not so much to paint the portrait of a narcissist as to place before you possible common human things that we both share. It’s up to you to decide what of it is something relatable and what doesn’t speak to your life.

How many of the great problems of life have I solved? I’m not sure I’ve solved any. I managed to convince myself of the utter worthlessness and wholly negative impact of smoking cigarettes, but then, perhaps the Lord was helping me come to this ultimate conclusion. As for some of my other ongoing vices and proclivities to sinning, I’ve continued to struggle and slowly improve and get away from carrying around so many unrighteous thoughts all the time.

My first thought when encountering people in public–be it in an elevator or on the road–is no longer a thought of how I can get ahead of them and maximize my own success at “winning” in any particular social negotiation. Nor do I approach these situations with any great fear or affected temerity. I try to hold back and let others have their way, get what they think they deserve, and slowly ease in and move on without becoming a burden to anyone behind me. Of course, there are no real winners in life the way we so desperately hope there will be. We all know, when confronted with the absurdity of it, that at best most of us will get a brick on the alumni walk or a plaque on a bench or a nice obituary. Our great-grandchildren won’t remember us, and no one else from their generation will, either. The world simply doesn’t work the way we’d like to think it does–to memorialize and cherish our ancestors and keep flames of love burning for them long after they have passed.

Yet, it would seem that we are always pushing and pressing and hustling to get just a little bit more for ourselves and our children, no matter the heartache we might be causing someone else who must suffer at our expense.

My goal is to try to minimize my footprint of hustling, though I know that it is quite large. My wife consumes much less than I do. I suspect that if we took a sober look at our expenses, we would see that I spend more money on booze and books and food than she does on clothes and other things for herself. Ninety percent of the time, I can place myself into a state of mind in which I am content to read the books I own or the books from the public library or the free ones I’ve found online. I am content to watch the movies that show up in our streaming subscription channels, and eat the food we purchased at the grocery store. When the beer runs out for the week, I don’t feel the need to go get more. But it’s the other ten percent of the time that really gets me–the times where stress is at a great high, or it’s the time of year when it first gets really dark and I start to feel incapable of lifting a finger to do anything at all.

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