Supposed to Be
Back in the early eighties I had a mentor kind of guy named Dick M. That was his name. He was one of those don’t drink just today folks, and as he was indeed a mentor to me, I guess I was to. I sure liked him a lot, and he seemed to like me.
Here’s one way I could tell he liked me. Periodically, like every two or three days, I would stroll over to wherever he was, drinking a coffee, talking it up with some guys, hanging out with the woman he hung out with, who was not his girlfriend or anything like that, more of a special lady friend. Anyway, I’d walk over and he’d turn to look at me – he had such a gentle, kind, and caring look – and I would begin with some complaint about life’s unfair and why me and I don’t deserve this and where’s the benefits for all my hard work – stuff like that – and Dick would widen that sweet smile of his and almost always say the same thing. This thing:
“You’re right where you’re supposed to be.”
To be honest, it wasn’t my favorite answer. I was leaning more toward “Poor Buddy” and “I feel you” and “Yeah, life can be so unfair”, predictable kinds of answers anyone would want and expect, that’s what I thought then. But, no. “You’re right where you’re supposed to be.”
Two weeks ago yesterday my wife told me she didn’t want me anymore. She told me she was filing for a divorce and, this being her house, you need to go. The first thing to come into my head was not “You’re right where you’re supposed to be.” That advise-type-answer didn’t show up. Trying to catch my breath showed up, and walking out into the world and calling my best pal down in Oakland and sobbing and crying and asking for the comfort of his voice and the wisdom of his words, all that showed.
Since that Wednesday the calls have continued, daily, most from him to me, some from me to him. I’ve spoken with a couple of other friends, and received gifts of tangible support. I have dived deeply into the world of Zoom and spent an hour or so many times a week sitting with more of those “Just for today” cats. And kittens. This morning, zooming my way down to Oakland, with mostly people of color looking back at me, someone asked if I had anything to say. I said yes, and I told them about a guy named Dick M and what he’d always say. I told them that wasn’t what I thought of when I received the “This is the end” news.
You know what else I told them? I said that after all the phone calls looking out for me, after all the people asking how can they help, after every morning me on my knees asking the Great Spirit for help to have, once again, a grateful heart, and sitting in meditation every day in the straight-back chair and letting in nothingness, endless and empty – after morning coffees with open pads and notebooks scribbling down every idea slipping on into my head, and some pretty wild ones – kids – about where to now? and how many writers do you love who lived off couches and kindness and electricity for the typewriters? – after all that and a lot more, I told them that this Thursday morning I had the feeling, pretty clear, pretty believable, that, well, I’m right where I’m supposed to be.