My disease slipped out of the corner yesterday and came close by me. It did not whisper, the way it likes to do. It spoke clearly – “Maybe you should start drinking again. People liked you better then.” Actually, I wasn’t particularly surprised. The last week or so I’ve been spending a whole bunch of time shining my little light – the “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine” light – inside, turned around, illuminating the me of me, as a saying goes, “Poking through abandoned grasses.” I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I go down that path it’s a pretty serious journey. And I’ve been on it this past week wondering about how I present myself to the world. Which, again, speaking only for me, often brings something like criticism tagging along. Um — “People liked you better then.”
This particular disease never goes away. Ever. That’s okay, it ain’t cancer. People used to say, “Where else can you treat your disease for a quarter?” Now it’s more like a buck, inflation and everything. Still, there’s a lot worse than a disease waiting so patiently in the shadows for moments of, what, doubt? Less than? Something wrong? Some inherent broken-ness? I’ve always pictured the disease licking its lips in those moments – “Gotcha” – and slinking on over. “People liked you better then.”
Here’s the thing, for me here this Wednesday morning, cars passing out there on rainy streets, Shining the light on myself is never a bad thing. Even if there’s not a lot of giggling along the way. Though, trust me, there almost always is, even if it’s not real visible on the face I’m offering to the world. “What’s most important?” Here’s another way to say it – “It’s okay for me to love “Louie, Louie” and “In my Room” exactly the same at exactly the same time. Like Walt Whitman says – “I am large. I contain multitudes.”
Yesterday I told a friendly barista at Starbucks next door, if I want to be the best helper for the planet I can be, and welcome the day and everyone in it in – and I do – I want my face to always have the “Open for business” sign lit up. Twenty-four, seven. And then, I woke up this morning and I sat in a chair and I knew – I knew – that wasn’t right. Lots of time the sign of my face is glowing “Out to lunch.” Exactly where I’m supposed to be. Life of the party and solemn poet – they ain’t two.
So, back to “People liked you better then.” I don’t believe that for a second. Satchel Page is quoted as saying – “It ain’t what you don’t know that hurts you. It’s what you know that just ain’t so.” Yesterday afternoon I told my disease to “Shoo.” Which cracks me up, because my disease hates that. No defense against it. Back to the corner, honored one. Yesterday’s barista, his name’s Daniel, likes me as much as people liked me when I was dancing on tables, smashed and on my way to vomit city. People didn’t like me better then, even if there’s some encouragement to think that. People have liked me just fine all along. Open for business. Out to lunch.