For whatever reason, today I decided to bypass my usual pontifications and hang a little loose, slide out a little more into this public forum about a personal relationship of not too long ago.
Hmm, let’s see …
Well, I have this friend who has a problem.
And she’s an old friend, so if he’s got a problem, I’ve got a problem.
And if I’ve got a problem I like go for its throat, fast, and choke it to death, or slash its carotids. This way it will die and leave me alone.
Anyway, she is up one day and down the next, can’t seem to find the stable footing we all covet, not wanting to slip off that crumbly edge of reality. It makes her life hard. And she is very angry. She doesn’t live nearby, so e-mails and the odd phone call have been the common currency of our exchanges.
Then I decided to start sending out postcards with some little inspirational statement or saying in the message panel. I’ve collected (what haven’t I collected?) postcards for many years, and whenever I go traveling I load up on local scenics or museum stuff. Now I try to send out three or four a week to my embattled friend, and all it costs me is a stamp and a little time.
I’m a voracious, even compulsive reader (OK, boasting time: one year I read close to 100 books, plus countless articles in newspapers and magazines and other venues), and for years I have kept notebooks on my reading (got much easier to organize once computers arrived on the scene, and I undertook the laborious task of transferring everything from the past to disk). I can go through my notes and pick out a good saying here, something encouraging there, or as I go along just make stuff up out of the vast material I have at hand.
I’ve been doing this for a couple of months now, and the strange (maybe not, come to think of it) thing is that it has really helped my friend.
She says she keeps all the cards and posts them on a wall in her kitchen. First she displays the message side, and then the art work or cityscape or whatever on the obverse. She cycles through the sides. And she actually looks forward to the arrival of the mailman every day – I think it’s kind of the way anybody looks forward to logging on and seeing what’s popped up in the e-mailbox. She finds that instead of always waking up filled with anxiety and trembling for the day to come, she now has something positive to look forward to. And she studies the cards. Plays out the implications of even the most simple message, figures out how it will apply to her on a given day. She takes it as a potential guide. (So far, one of her favorites, with – according to her – almost infinite applicability to her or anybody’s life, is this one: “I was angry for I had no shoes; then I met a man with no feet.”)
Or she imagines she travels to the city or lake or country depicted on a given postcard, or is a participant in this or that action of a painting, or is that beautiful lady in the portrait. It fires her imagination. It brings aspiration into her life beyond the bitterness she’s been clinging to – and, if I’m to believe her, starting very gradually to let go of.
I am so grateful I could help a dear friend in so easy a way.