I was recently forced into a conversation with an old acquaintance. And when I say "forced" I don't mean that there was a gun at my head... it's just that it was a conversation neither one of us wanted to be having. We were never on the best of terms, but have always been civil those rare times we run into each other. When it comes down to it, we simply have no interests in common, no reason to be friends, and there's nothing wrong with that on either side.
Anyway... the topic of the conversation was a mutual friend who has gotten into some serious trouble lately. It's all a sad situation brought on by a number of converging factors that I won't go into... but suffice to say the poor bastard has been assaulted on all fronts, and is not dealing with it well.
As I sat there listening to the long list of terrible things going on with a friend I no longer recognize, I couldn't help but wonder where my breaking point is. What would have to happen in my life to make me toss everything out the window? How much crap would it take to send me over the edge?
I honestly don't know, but I'll bet it's not as much as I'd like to think it is.
And I'm okay with that, but only because I have to be.
Once my old acquaintance was done updating me on all the latest horror stories in our mutual friend's life, there was an uncomfortably long pause... as if he was waiting for me to come up with a solution to fix everything. But instead I just said "Yeah, that's too bad." and "I hope everything works out." Not because I don't care or don't want to help, but because I honestly don't know how. These problems are so far outside my ability to grasp that I can only guess alien abduction, voodoo, super-powers gained from a nuclear accident, and one million dollars would be required to solve them.
As I sat there in silence with the phone glued to my ear, wishing I was an extra-terrestrial witch-doctor super-hero millionaire, I realized that our combined helplessness finally gave us something in common...
"I could stop by for dinner in-between my next two trips if you want."
"Thanks, but you don't have to do that."
"No... I think I will. Besides, a new Hard Rock Cafe just opened up in town, and I've been looking for an excuse to visit."
"Oh. Okay. We should go then."
Nothing like mutual helplessness and despair to bring people together.
Why isn't this world a much closer place?