Reflections Of An Old Friend
As I get older, I value my time - and what I do with it - much more than I ever did. I'm sure it's no different for every one of us. What we do, who we spend it with and what impact we have, are all significant recurring themes in my thought process.
Themes that became all the more relevant in a conversation I had with an old friend the other day. He told me about an old friend of his, someone who was an important influence on him during his childhood. He had lost touch with this friend, had been trying to get in touch with him for years, but with no luck. His friend was "off the grid".
Then just a couple of weeks ago, he got a call from the friend's brother, letting him know that his friend had passed away. He drank himself to death.
He'd left his family, his job, his life, to be subsumed with nothing but his next drink. And the next. And the next. Until the drink consumed him, and reduced him to nothing more than a memory in minds of those he left behind.
I don't know why, but the story left me emotional, sad and reflective. More than I would have expected, considering I didn't even know his friend. I've been giving a lot of thought to why I felt that way.
Perhaps, in such stories, we relate - more than we'd like to believe - even if we don't have the same issues with alcohol or other such drugs.
Perhaps, in such stories, we see a reflection of our own hopes and dreams. Our personal failings and shortcomings. Our unfulfilled desires and wishes.
Perhaps we see more of ourselves - or what could be ourselves - than we'd like to admit.
And that's OK. I think that's normal. It's what it means to be human. To be real.
But we can't - we mustn't - let it end there. As important, is what we take away from such stories.
That if we don't learn from them, then we've missed the core message. The central lesson.
That, surely, it's about where we can still go, rather than we haven't been.
That we can still drive the change, and not resign ourselves to our fate.
That the path is always there.
I'm not suggesting it's easy. I'm not suggesting we won't struggle. And I'm certainly not suggesting we'll always make it.
We need to try. We need the hope that we can.
There must always hope. Just as there are always people willing to help - often people we don't know. People who will help for no reason other than they don't want to see you hurt.
We need the hope that we can.
Because we can.