Always, when I remember that time in my life, I feel as though I am looking through a car’s windshield on a rainy day, the view cascading-water furrowed as the wipers afford, for mere seconds, an opaque glimpse of a road already years ago traveled.
It is, after all, a rainy day in Camas, as days in Camas often are. Out of the half a dozen or so college friends weekend gathered, shortly before Christmas at his parent’s home, he’d asked me to accompany him to the family owned liquor store, and I’d said yes, riding shotgun in his old blue Dodge. It is still raining when we return, unpaved-driveway gravel crunching under the tires as he brings the Dodge to a halt. Before he jumps out of the car, before he jogs around to my side to open my door and help me out, he reaches into the brown paper liquor store bag and big-smile hands me a bottle of my favorite Baileys Irish Cream. And then, there we are. Standing in the pouring rain, as he does what I am not prepared for. His arm encircles my waist and he kisses me. Clutching my bottle of Baileys I start to cry, not wanting what just happened. Not wanting him. And feeling guilty as hell because of it.
When you are in a struggle with life, lose. There is no triumph over truth.
He’d written it down on a scrap of notebook paper and shared it with me days before. In a let-your-guard-down kind of moment.
I dropped out of college at the end of that year, floundering in my attempts to keep my grades above failing, while failing in my attempts to stop partying, to stop my excessive drinking. Though not understanding what he meant by them, merely finding them to be hauntingly beautiful, I wrote his words down in a book with blank pages. My collection of inspiring quotes that would keep me glued together over the years. And I lost touch with him-learning only a couple of decades later that tragically, he’d already died.
This morning, after yet another night of too little toss and turn sleep, I inexplicably out-of-the-blue recall his words, and in a flash of insight I think I finally understand what he meant.
As daunting a challenge as it may be, inner peace comes from discovering your authentic self, and then living your life accordingly.
And though I am forever left to wonder what his own battle was, I honestly believe that his words are truth.
Quote credit Chuck Sorweide