Q. Where would you like to be?
A. In a place of greater ease.
Q. Is something making you uneasy?
A. Many things make me uneasy.
Q. Like what?
A. Well, for one thing, I made a New Year’s Resolution. I’m keeping it, but it just seems forced. It’s not easy.
Q. Are resolutions ever easy?
A. Probably not.
Q. Then why fret?
A. Because of — the nature of the resolution, and the specific temptations to break it.
Q. What are you tempted to do?
A. I’m tempted to continually contact my old friends in California, in order to try to prove myself to them. In fact, I’m tempted to scream and yell at them, and to call them very nasty names.
Q. You haven’t actually done that, have you??
A. Not recently, no. In times past, perhaps.
Q. Then can’t you just relax, knowing you’ve kept your resolution?
A. No, I can’t. That’s the whole point. I’m not at ease. How can I relax, when I have all these horrible feelings toward my old friends?
Q. What horrible feelings?
A. Anger, resentment, bitterness, rage, and hostility — to name a few.
Q. You feel all those things toward your old friends?
A. Because they think they care about me, but they don’t. This thing that they call “caring” is actually disrespect.
Q. But how can caring be confused for disrespect?
A. All right. Let me explain. Take this one guy I’ll call Richard. He keeps insisting that he cares deeply about me. But all his caring is only a put-down. No matter how positively I express myself, he always finds something negative about it, and then acts as though illuminating the negative is caring.
Q. Would you call this chap a bubble-burster?
A. I would call him names much worse than that, were it not for my resolution.
Q. Why do you think he is finding fault in the things that you think are positive?
A. Because he’s a fault-finder.
Q. But what specifically does he find faulty?
A. Well – I think he objects to the pace at which I proceed. Recently he suggested I ought to “slow down.” He also said I come across as though I’m trying to “make up for lost time.”
Q. What’s so bad about that?
A. Look what it suggests. First off, he assumes that all my years of homelessness were “lost time.” Those happen to be the years that have provided the entire impetus for my work. “Lost time??” What the hell kind of concept is that? Is any time ever lost? Isn’t all life experience valuable?
Q. But you do see what he meant, don’t you?
A. Sure I do! And that is what’s so insulting. This guy has actually gone so far as to say things like “Forget about all those homeless people!” Forget about them?? What am I supposed to do, wipe out twelve of the most meaningful years of my life, and all the many conversations with the numerous fine individuals I met on the streets? How dehumanizing! It’s the exact attitude I so fervently oppose!
Not to mention, Richard never recognizes that I wrote my finest music when I was homeless. Sure, I couldn’t sequence it — I couldn’t hang on to a laptop down there, or to music production software. But I wrote it, didn’t I? So how does that make my time “lost?”
Q. Well, wasn’t it just a figure of speech? Don’t you think he probably meant it was lost for the very reason that you lacked those resources?
A. Figure of speech? P.O.T.U.S. told Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes that he “loves” Kim Jong and then wrote off the word “love” as a “figure of speech.” And as far as time being “lost” because of my having been disadvantaged and underprivileged, that’s only a typical dismissal of the dignity and humanity of human beings who happen to be homeless. They call homeless people “lost” because they lack advantage. As though anyone who lacks privilege is “lost” — as though they got that way because of “poor choices they made” — as though it’s a moral failing to be down and out.
Q. Wow – don’t you think you’re reading a lot into it?
A. No, I don’t! You see, I know this guy. I know him better than he knows himself. And not just him, but everyone like him. All my old friends. They have so much privilege, they base their self-worth on it. And they look down upon people who lack privilege, because that’s the only way they can live with their absolute emptiness of spirit.
Q. Emptiness of spirit?
A. You heard me! When it comes right down to it, they’re basically going to hell. They cannot possibly manifest Everlasting Life, because there is no true life in their spirits.
Q. But – but – aren’t a lot of these people Christians?
A. They say they are. And they may even think they are. But so what? What does calling yourself a Christian have to do with the Real Life of the Spirit? I know plenty of people who don’t identify as “Christians,” and I can tell for sure that they have Life.
Q. In the, er, fervor with which you make such claims, can you not grasp that there is a very real sense in which you truly are “making up for lost time?”
A. And what sense is that, may I ask? “Making up for lost time” makes it sound as though I’m on a mad rush to get things done quickly, as though the grave were just around the corner. To frame it that way completely overlooks the joyfulness of the process! I don’t write all these words and music and make all these speeches because I’m a stress case, for crying out loud! I do it because this is what I love to do, and it is what I am called to do.
Q. But — but — if you’re not a stress case, why are you so stressed out?
A. That’s a rhetorical question.
Q. But it’s true, isn’t it? Didn’t you begin this very dialectic with an admission of your not being “at ease?”
A. All right, you win. Yes, there’s stress. I’m not going to deny it. It’s why we’re here. I wish things were a bit more certain, and I weren’t having to shoot so far into the dark. I know I have the calling, I hear the call clearly — but I often can’t tell where it’s headed. And yes, this uncertainty results in stress.
Q. Uncertainty? How can you possibly claim to be uncertain?
A. What do you mean?
Q. Isn’t it obvious? Don’t you clearly come across as one of the most convicted, self-assured people on the planet? What could be more certain?
A. My path. My direction. Where I’m headed exactly could be much more certain. Much more easy on my spirit.
Q. Now why do I find all this so hard to believe?
A. I don’t know. Why do you?
Q. Well, didn’t this blog post come pretty easily to you?
A. I suppose it did. I’ve been hammering out pretty rapidly with very little editing. It’s been a joyful process. Can’t exactly say it came hard.
Q. Well then, what is the essence of the dis-ease? Why are you still uneasy?
A. It’s — it’s those guys again — my old friends — the people with whom I wish I could share my current joy, the way I always used to share it with them. They’ve either disappeared on me, or they come back at me with assault and vitriol. They — they — they don’t get it — they don’t see me for who I am — and it’s frustrating because — these were my lifelong friends — they weren’t supposed to just abandon me like this . .
Q. But have they truly abandoned you? What about this fellow Richard? Isn’t he actually very much engaged with you?
A. Engaged, yes — but in the wrong way. They only keep criticizing me! They sit around and gossip, and smoke their weed, and place bets as to when I’m going to have my first heart attack.
Q. Then why do you remain so attached to these unsupportive old friends of yours?
A. That’s the whole problem. It’s why I’m not at east. These are birth bangs. The woman in Revelation Chapter Twelve cries out with travail as she is about to give birth to the New Child. And the dragon awaits her, right outside her womb, to devour it — if it were possible.
Q. Who is the New Child?
A. In Scripture, we know this to be the Christ Child. But anybody with a calling, with a life-purpose, has their own baby. In my case, it’s my musical. It’s going to fly. I can feel it! The Woman is bringing birth to it, even as we speak.
Q. And who is the Woman?
A. (chuckles) I need not say.
Q. And the dragon?
A. Symbolically, in this case, the enemy. The Resister.
Q. But don’t you need the Resister in order to move forward?
A. Yes! That’s it! I need these guys! I need their criticism in order to move forward! I need these gossipy, lame-ass old friends of mega-privilege who don’t even have purposes in life other than to guzzle down more and more money, faster and faster, as though their lives depended on it. I need them. You’ve got it once again. Perfect!! I need these guys. How could I have been so blind?
Q. Uh — you say you need these guys??
A. I do! I need to prove them wrong. I have to fight them in all their money-loving arrogance with all my impoverished Art-loving, Christ-loving heart! And that’ll show ’em!
Q. Show ’em what?
A. What do you think?
The Questioner is silent.
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