Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Answer

The thing about asking God for an answer is that you're gonna get one. And it is probably going to be someone really unexpected to give it to you.

I have taken to going to this little chapel at SFX every day. It's a quiet, serene, prayerful place and I usually fall into a state of semi-somnolence. After a while, I get up, proceed to the grotto at the side of the church, light a candle or two, speak some more, and then I take off. For the office.

So today I was driving back to the office, still feeling that pale shade of azure. I parked and as I was making my way into my office building, I bumped into someone I used to know. We started chatting and he asked me for lunch. I replied that I had a meeting at 2, but he said, come have coffee anyway, I'm just going to the Mexican restaurant here.

OK, coffee I could handle. Now this friend has never been the most voluble in the world. He tends to speak in cryptic phrases and look at me with half amused attention, like he sees through my bluff.

Anyway, there we were chatting away (at least, he was chatting, and I was nodding seriously) when suddenly he asked, why I was being so quiet. I shrugged and all that heavy feeling, which had been waiting on the wings, came back.

He said my problem is that I live in the past and the future, and never in the now.

I was stunned.

I asked God, why am I feeling so crummy? Can you stop me from feeling like this?

And God said, your problem is that you don't live in the now!

And there was a nice glass of clear water in front of me and my friend asked me to pretend that I was in a desert and enjoy that glass of water.

"Look you can enjoy talking to anyone or being with anyone. Even if they're a pain in the ass. And if they're too much of a pain in the ass, you tell them to fuck off, without rancour of course, and go your merry way, busy enjoying the now. What is the matter with you anyway?"

"I want what I cannot have."

"Material things?"

"No, I don't really care about those. I mean, I do, but they're not central. They don't make me happy. It's other things. Qualities. You know..."

"I see."


"Learn to live in the now, Jennifer, it's pretty simple really. If I hadn't discovered this, I would have gone mad by now."


"Yeah, mad doesn't mean raving loony. It could just mean depressed and self destructive."

"Been there, done that. Saw in New Year's alone. Brief bout with alcoholism."

"Hmmm...if you're slugging down a whisky, enjoy that whisky...but don't do it everyday. It's when you get obsessed..."

"Yeah, that's my problem I get obsessed. And yes, it was every day. Until I stopped. And besides, it was brandy. Brandy or wine..."

"Whatever. Obsession is not necessarily enjoyment. It's just obsession."

I sigh. He sighs.

We look at each other.

He tells me about his little daughter, whom he refers to as the "joy point" of his life. He asks me to rake up some happy memories when I'm feeling down. I look at him with that mixture of sadness and perplexity that I have when someone asks me to rake up happy memories. I know they're there. I just can't seem to access them at the moment.

I know he wants to give me a hug. Instead, he gives me his ice cream, cookies and cream, which is just as good.

I dig into it happily.

We walk back to our office building slowly.

"Gosh, you must think I'm a real kook after that conversation."

I look at him in surprise: "Me? Think you're a kook? After that?"

The lift opens at the seventh floor. He's on the eight. I get out. He waves. I smile. The lift closes.

And here I am, back in the office, trying to live in the moment.

20 minutes overdue for a meeting to edit webpages.

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