Not just once, but twice this week... I ran into myself. At least the guy I was a while back. Creepy.
For the sake of clarity, I am in no way saying I have arrived at perfection. Ha. Hardly. I still qualify as a knucklehead. Just a different knucklehead, one my wife likes again.
- The first time I met myself this week. We have a semi-regular date night, for the last few months. One of our favorite spots is on Flagler Beach. Johnny D's is a small beachside bar and grill with killer burgers. They also do a lot of live solo music and karaoke. For most of my life, I have worked in pro audio. Concert sound, studio work, corporate shows and stuff like that. I was always on the other side of the microphone. The thought of attempting to sing in front of people was horrifying. The people who sing karaoke have always been amusing to me. They seem to fall into one of three categories. People who are having fun, people who think it's a legitimate way to show off their talent and apparently people who just do it because someone talked them into it. I am the third type. Prior to this week, there was absolutely no way I would have ever gotten up and taken a microphone. But, things change. After listening to a few others, and watching my wife laugh and smile a lot, she did it. "You should go sing for me." Crap. Every logical fiber in my soul panicked for a moment. Then, whatever new stuff is in there woke up. "Your wife just asked you for something. She just hinted at something that would make her night better. She just suggested something that will make happy memories of us for her." So, before the logical side could argue, I just ran up there and did it. She loved it. I sucked worse than I thought I would. Got lost and messed the words up, even with the words right in front of me. She didn't care. It ended up as a great night. However, after putting the mic down and wading through the cheering throngs of my new fans, I saw myself. Didn't even notice this guy all night. But I saw him on the way back. He was wearing a black shirt, the standard uniform of guys like me. He was at a table alone, but leaning over trying to talk to the people around him. He was making fun of the singers. He wasn't involved, he was a critic. I could see him laughing at me on the way back. He stopped when I got closer. ( I am still a fairly large and intimidating person, apparently. ) I watched him start right back up on the next person. He sat the there most of the night. Nobody really talked to him. He was alone. He was critical of everything around him and wouldn't participate. It was tough to watch. That's been me most of my adult life. Felt bad for him. Don't want to be him anymore.
The second time I ran into myself this week. I met a mutual friend of <a href="http://joelandkathy.com">Joel and Kathy </a> this week. Met him before, seemed like a nice guy. Well, his facade cracked this week. He is miserable. He is angry at everyone, everyone owes him an apology for ruining his life, he expects perfection from everyone else but wants them to understand his faults. His life is a frustrating mess because he can't forgive people and move on. His wife is my wife. She loves him, but he is making her crazy. He is so self absorbed with his problems that he has almost forgotten to be a husband. It all revolves around him. She looks like she has had about enough. It tore me apart to talk to him. I saw myself. I saw what my wife and everyone else had to put up with. I saw why she wanted the divorce. We talked for a while. Actually, I talked. He had the appearance of someone listening, paying attention to someone who had an answer he needed. I told him that he was the first person I ever met who could really understand where I came from. Our lives were so similar it was scary. The only difference was that I was able to let things go and move forward. He knows that was the difference. He knows how I changed. He sees the changes in my world and how my wife is healing. I honestly thought we were communicating and he understood. But then, he turned around and picked up the same arguments as before. I got up and said goodbye. Not worth wasting my breath. He wasn't going to listen. He wanted us to think he was listening. He was respectful enough to sit there without arguing, mostly. But he heard nothing. He wanted freedom. He wanted to move on with his life, but he can't until his past is resolved. He is waiting for perfect answers and apologies to ease his mind and make sense of his life. It's not going to happen.
If you are like these guys, stop it. Please. For the sale of your friends and family, stop being a jackass. It's not all about you. Stop building yourself up by tearing others down. Stop living as a critic and get in the game. The critics look funny from this side. If you are that self absorbed jerk who has to make the world perfect for himself and miserable for everyone else, stop it. The freedom is to forget about your garbage and focus on making life good for the people who matter. My life got so much better once I quit trying to make myself happy and focused on my wife. Making her happy makes me happy. I just wish I could make those guys understand. Before their family has had enough.