I am not like most other people I meet and I know that. It’s hard to pretend to be like them because they can’t even see what the difference is. They feel it, it scares them and they make no attempt to understand it. They push me away. It has been so evident on this “vacation”. It has made me understand why it has been so hard with members of my family. I’ve known it, thought I could change it -help them understand, and couldn’t, but this has made it definite. You can pick your friends, but you’re stuck with your family.
I think a lot about the meaning of life. I think about what a friend is. I think it means more to me than it does to many other people. Let me rephrase that. I want friends who have something to say. People who don’t waste their life, or disrespect their life; those who live their lives honestly. People who have a desire to continually learn and dig beneath the surface away from only being able to talk about the weather. Maybe that’s why they are so hard to find. The world has a bunch of acquaintances that only go skin deep. I want more from a friend than I think most people have the ability to give, or perhaps they have no clue what it means. Sometimes, in a rare moment of time I meet someone I immediately know understands and can talk for hours exchanging ideas and philosophies. But it is always disappointing when you are with someone who can only talk about their prejudices and negatives and doesn’t care who you are, what you say or what you are doing and you realize they aren’t interested at all. They don’t even know the questions to ask. They aren’t even on the same planet. You realize then there is nothing there that matters. How do you have a conversation when you have nothing in common?
What is a Friend?
It’s like the question; what is a sister? Is it being able to talk about all your aches and pains because you both have them? Is it being able to talk about disappointments in your grown children wondering why they became who they are? Is the weather the only safe subject? Wow, it’s really hot today. That’s deep. Do you talk about life? No. That is too touchy. They have no idea why they believe what they do because they never really thought about it. It’s just an abstract thing they don’t even try to understand. Conversation is shallow and meaningless as they wait to die and don’t care if they do. They leave nothing behind for anyone to remember they were ever here. That describes almost everyone I meet. The sad thing is that there is no interest to understand what that means. Who am I to think I could have something to teach them that could affect their life in a positive way?
“I am a Christian,” I am often told. I commend myself most of the time for refraining from asking, “Why?” What would the answer have been? “Because . . .” without really knowing why or realizing that your faith should impact how you live your life. “Because . . . that is what I was told and I never questioned it. It’s about going to this place called heaven after you die, but it doesn’t alter how they live their life or how they treat the people around them. But how can you be a Christian and be so judgemental and hateful toward others? Doesn’t being a Christian mean anything to you? Why would anyone want to be a Christian if they were looking at you as a guide for behavior? But I didn’t talk about any of this. I realized I would be speaking a language that wouldn’t be understood and I’d be beating my head against the wall. I have a friend who is a Christian who lives her faith as though it is important to her. She really believes and understands the Bible because she makes a concerted effort to study and apply it. We have interesting conversations because we respect each other. We exchange ideas without trying convert each other.
Most people have no clue why they believe what they do. Recently my 36 year old daughter found fault with me as a parent because I didn’t teach her about Christianity when she was a child. Why would I do that? I was a devout agnostic long before she was born and began studying Buddhism from the time she was eight. Why would I teach her a religion with a God when I believed there was no such thing. I also didn’t teach her about the Muslim faith or Judaism, Scientology or Wiccan. Don’t blame me for your unhappiness. I won’t accept the responsibility. When the woman I was just traveling with declared, “I am a Christian.” I bit my tongue and didn’t say, “Lot of good that’s doing you because you sure are miserable.” I kept that to myself. They don’t get it. If your faith doesn’t enable you to be happy while you live, what’s the point? You think happiness comes after you die? Life is for the living, not the dead.
I met a man at a campsite laundry room while traveling in a motor home in Arizona. (Why anyone would want to live in 111 degree weather -in the shade – is beyond me) He was Albanian and had traveled the world. Astute in the politics of countries. I learned from him. He came to the US 30 years ago and has lived by himself in the desert for 21 years and enjoys the solitude. Very much a hermit lifestyle, but still he craves human conversation. In me he met someone who loves to talk. We covered many subjects. He comes to the campsite laundry room to wash his clothes. I don’t even know his name. I think he was in his 60’s. We hit it off right away and talked for probably 2 hours about many aspects of life from religion to politics to people. He explained how and why people in other countries feel about us as they do. We have done horrible things to people in other countries yet we think we are the good guys. We aren’t. We didn’t get this powerful by being nice. They are retaliating. Can you blame them. Our people are soft. We wouldn’t last a week in the countries we decimate. Our country is fat and stupid. Kids graduate high school and can’t even count back change at a register if it didn’t tell them how much to give. Every week there is another mass shooting, but don’t dare try to take away my gun! I might need to protect myself from my neighbor when I see him in Walmart. I wouldn’t set foot in a Walmart. If you have to ask why it’s too late to teach you. I don’t support corporations that help destroy the country for greed.
Many people think we are the good guys, but are we? I don’t think so. There are still people who think our military is protecting democracy. It’s not. We go to war because it makes corporations rich. People suck it up watching Fox news and think it’s the truth. But still, my new friend said, as fucked up as this country is -it’s worse out there and he wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Wouldn’t it be great if we stopped raping this country out of greed? Wouldn’t it be great if the people who lived here mattered and the 1% didn’t run us over time and again? Wouldn’t it be great if our elections weren’t a farce?
I have often heard the phrase, “Never talk religion or politics” but talking with this man was such a pleasure. It was the only honest conversation I had the entire month I was gone. How wonderful to have a conversation with someone who understands what you are talking about. It’s rare. He knew what I meant when I said it was hard to find people who didn’t take offense because I am outspoken about what I believe to be true. He said those people are out there. Keep searching. Okay, I will.