While drinking my morning coffee the other day, my phone chimed, signaling an incoming text message. It was pretty early so my interest was piqued. As I checked the screen, the words “Wholly Moses” brightened the sky on this nominally dismal and sad, overcast morning and I may have laughed out loud. I replied, “Damn. Nice.”
Several years ago, my old college buddy, Jeff, and I were involved in a beer-driven challenge to name old HBO movies we watched as kids. We compiled a pretty impressive list, which I still have scribed on the wrinkled napkin we recorded our results on.
Now, a few times a year, the light bulb will go on and a simple text with only the title of the movie will be sent. We each enjoy receiving these. Though, in all honesty, I am occasionally annoyed when he remembers a good one before me.
Nonetheless, these little notes always make me smile. I am reminded of a fun day with a good friend and I know that he is reminded of me. It’s nice to know that other people think of us. That’s the beauty of old friends. Anything, even old HBO movie titles, can have meaning and make us smile. These things reflect time spent and life shared.
Old friends require little maintenance. And there is tremendous comfort in knowing that my muddled and motley collection of great old friends and I will be drinking a beer and playing cribbage, sharing successes and tragedies and calling each other bad names forever. These are the good and easy relationships.
Other relationships we experience require tending; delicate attention and mindful grooming. Our kids and our spouses live here. Throughout shared lives, a million little cuts are delivered as a harsh word or an unspoken word. Tiny neglects and lack of attention to the minute variations in a heartbeat become bricks in the walls that we construct. Individually, they appear insignificant. Over time, though, these cuts or bricks compound and eventually strike an artery and the relationship bleeds out or a fortress is erected with walls too high for a man to climb.
When this happens, restitution must be paid. We must atone. It is here that we are forced to emotionally strip down in front of the classroom and stand uncovered while the pupils stare open-mouthed at our form and point and laugh. In these moments, we are built. We learn things that we could not learn otherwise.
And when we’re naked, stripped bare of all ornament and garnish, we are changed. Lying exposed on the desert floor as the night animals and buzzards pick apart the carcass of our past and leave it to bleach in the sun, pride, ego, self-consciousness, filters and lenses that send us false information and all other diabolical human emotional creations evaporate. Leaving only a truth. And in this truth is the somewhat comforting understanding that endings and beginnings often wear the same shoes…
[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, whose first book is called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). He also runs the new Waterland Arcade, located at 22306 Marine View Drive South. Dave extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, Dave needs more friends – find him on Facebook here.