We can’t give what we don’t have
I’ve been hearing this phrase a lot lately, mostly in relation to leadership and spirituality. The idea that you can’t draw from an empty pail to replenish a thirsty jar because you do not have what the other person needs. The phrase was obviously designed to elicit a reaction, specifically to load up so that when it was needed, we would not be in want.
Each of our existences paints a unique picture. Mine was essentially a genealogical recount of a life built on quicksand while people watched and laughed akin to those silly Japanese game shows where someone almost always gets wet or dunked into a vat of cream. My thoughts zip back to specific instances, my parents’ divorce, financial issues to the cusp of poverty, dysfunctional relationships, ageing and dependent parent to care for, etc.
I’ve felt like a bloated, overfilled flask for sometime now. And no, that’s not an examination of my increasingly portly physique (although that is also true). I do feel I have something to give. Nothing great or spectacular. I am not even sure if it’s really valuable. Namely, how I survived a bruised and tattered existence.
But in a world where disheveled candor has been replaced by carefully-posed ‘candor’, I find myself with something to give, but no one really to give it to. ‘Everybody goes through shit, they just don’t show it’, is the refrain fed to me constantly. I know that. But it’s awkward to serve a meal to someone who hasn’t walked into your restaurant. I sometimes feel I would’ve been better off being born in the 60s, slapped with the same narratives I’ve been slapped with and emerging with something to offer disillusioned youths by the time the cynical and broody 90s rolled around.
I feel like a soldier without a war sometimes. These days, it often seems like a person who largely cake-walked through teenhood with a few slips has more to give to the young and coming. Namely about living life to the fullest, and not just surviving it, like I have. I understand of course. I can’t expect a teenager to appreciate the importance of a sturdy mattress over a weekend night out. We want what we need, when we need it. There just doesn’t seem to be a need for me regaling tales of my war-mongering ways with life at the moment.
My tale is not one of triumph. It’s not a tale of charging neck first into a mastodon and ripping it to shreds. But it’s a tale of going up against challenging odds, being swung around like a ragged doll, tossed into the walls of life but yet finding enough resolve to not die. It’s not the kind tale that people would be accustomed to share these days. We love our underdog tales these days served with a large side of bravado and fearlessness. I was afraid and hopeless but I got out of it by weathering the onslaught.
But I do believe there are people out there who are being crushed against a wall like I was, no foreseeable cavalry in sight, sitting idly on a bench watching the world spinning wonderfully and beautifully around them without being included in its whirlwind. You know, when you sometimes feel like God skipped you when he was handing out rations or worst, forgotten that He ever made you (He has not). I’ve been there, hung on just tight enough and so I am here, ready to tell the tale. Unfortunately, not many people seem to want to hear it at the moment.
Perhaps when the channel switches to something a little more gnarly in the future.