October 25, 2011

Fan Mail

Man, I loved this whole thing from start to finish. Your writing style is amazing. I've dealt with bullies & nasty racism for 12 years. The emotional pain was excruciating & I don't think I'll ever recover. However, the side effect was a blessing. I too developed a broad sense of humor & was a counselor & campus ministry leader in high school. I held positions that required confidence. The only thing was I never had confidence, I only faked it. I cant assert myself verbally or stand up for what I think is right. That's why I admire who you are & the character you molded yourself to be. I'm glad to know there's someone I can relate to. Never change yourself for anyone & never stop being a cynical ass hole.
That's a comment from my I'm A Cynical Asshole post. To be honest, that's one of my least favorite posts. It's not funny, it's not clever and it's way too honest for my liking. I wrote it at a time when I was hurt. And being hurt oft leads to overly emotional outbursts. Having distanced myself from the piece, I think I somehow managed to avoid that. But the responses it evoked, both in the comments section and in real life (you know, like, outside of the internet) are something I could never have expected. The above selection in particular touched me. To think that there is someone who would read the silly little words I type, and that they take something positive out of it, something that might make their life just the slightest bit better...it's too much for me to fathom. 

I don't know the person who made that comment. And I'd prefer not to. Selfishly, it's better to help a complete stranger than a friend. Or maybe it's easier for me to deal with the complex problems of someone who's not so intertwined with my daily life. Trust, I have plenty problems that I avoid answering. I'm sure most of you can relate. Physician heal thyself and all that. 

I recently had the honor to eulogize a friend of mine's grandfather. Frankly, the family felt that they couldn't do it. They would be far too emotional. And there were others considered before me. They, too, felt as if they wouldn't be up to the task. When asked, I immediately accepted. You know that saying "anything I can do to help?" Well, that was what I could do to help, and I knew it. See, I was detached enough to be clear, while still being close enough to bring a human element to it. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. To summarize an incredible life in a concise 5 minutes in front of their grieving loved ones. A Herculean task if ever I'd been charged with one.

           It's funny though. I wrote in a purposely upbeat manner. I deliberately avoided certain words and phrases. I'm seldom ever pleased with my first draft. That goes for blogs to papers to music reviews. But this one...this one I knew I got right on the first try. I read it from start to finish exactly one time. The morning of the funeral, I was blindsided with the task of reciting a poem that someone didn't feel up to reading. Ok. I'm a pro. I read it over a few times, making sure of my inflections. I was nervous about being seen as a hog, taking up too much time. I actually tried to get someone else to read it. Then I was informed that I was the sole speaker. In other words, if I didn't do it, it wouldn't get done. 

I read the poem. I damn near lost it on the first line. Some pro. Then I beseeched the room for its indulgence as I read my own thoughts. I blacked out at this point. The only things I remember are my legs shaking uncontrollably and my friend's uncle loudly chiming in with each anecdote I relayed. I'm told everyone clapped for me at the end. I have to take their word for it, because I don't remember that.

Why do I tell you this? Because several people came up to me afterwards and told me how surprised they were by my eulogy. How eloquent and poignant I was. How they didn't know I had that in me. How skeptical they were of me doing the eulogy.

I tell you this story to say this: You can change people's perception of you. It doesn't matter what it is. Chances are what people see you as is not what is inside of you. YOU determine your perception. It's entirely in your hands. Your story is still being written, and you have the amazing gift to craft your own ending. Do it.

On a personal note, I'd like to express my immense gratitude to a group of people who took me in as one of their own and entrusted me to send off their hero. I can never repay the faith you showed in me, but I hope my words did something to ease your pain. Someone's watching M*A*S*H reruns forever and he's happy.


  1. I stand up and applaued you my friend. You are a hell of a person and a great writer. I really enjoy your blog. I got chills reading this

  2. Thank you. I'm still amazed people read this much less that it makes any impact on them. I promise I'm getting back to the regularly scheduled yuck yucks soon.