A friend called me tonight having been through many issues of late. He and I have become good friends over the last few years. I worked with him at the little store I was at before transferring, he has left that store and now works for the post office with the goal of going to college. If I had a son, it would be him. He's a terrific young man and wants many things out of life. I keep encouraging him to get on campus as soon as possible. He says he's trying, but I need to butt out, it's his journey, not mine. What I did emphasize to him is that he is in a prime place right now. He's young, unattached, no children, no mortgage. The world is his for the taking, he just has to set his goal and go for it. He has worried frequently about pleasing others and making sure his family approves of him. I recognize that behavior. He knows he needs to let that go and do what is right for him, but I know that is much easier said than done. When I was his age, I was a college grad, married, and working. I really wanted to be a grown up with a grown up life (way overrated!). A few short years later we had a mortgage and I wanted to set out and explore the world (I had a safe harbor, so I wanted to start coloring outside the lines...death nail in my marriage). I did it backwards, and now I am doing all that I should have done in my younger days. I told him he might as well be doing his exploring now because it is the way life is designed. Define your life, decide what you want, go for it and the rest falls into place. Otherwise you have to do it when your older, and it is simply exhausting! There is no getting out of it, which I find an interesting aspect of the universe. Not to mention there is the dealing with the extra baggage that comes with making those mistakes in early years, and the collateral damage of addiction mixed into the pot.
This friend is good for me to have in my life. I can give him sage (read bullshit) wisdom and learn lessons from his experiences. Plus, I just enjoy him so much. He's funny, self-deprecating, adventurous and really open to good suggestions. He has the keen ability to discern decent advice given with care from bad advice designed by selfish motives. He also knows my story inside and out because we have spent so much time together at work and otherwise. He hears where I took wrong turns and what I have learned, and what I am doing to unpack that baggage that I have carried for so long. A good friend of mine from my AA group calls it uncovering, discovering and discarding. Realizing the truth and letting go of the shame and humiliation of it is the first step to making progress. We all have it, but with this particular young friend, he is truly carry some burdens that are not his to carry. I know in dramatic detail how dangerous it can be to carry someone else's cross.
I told this friend of mine that I have faith he will make the right decisions for himself. He is, if nothing else, honest with himself and believes in his abilities. The only thing he needs to do in my mind is pick a path, take it and never look back. I know he won't take my path, he's too grounded in reality for that, but hopefully he'll take my lessons and use them for his benefit and in the end have a whole and fulfilling life.