The people's voice of reason

Tears and Laughter: Nobody is okay all the time…and that is okay

Everybody puts up a good front don’t they? Or at least they try to. And that is probably what we are supposed to do for the most part. Just by human nature we tend to put our best selves forward. Even if we are train wrecks. We certainly do in the South. Someone can be grieving, broke, lonesome, depressed, bored, and hopeless, but if you ask them how they are doing, they will say they are okay. Or, they will say, “I’m good,” – knowing full well they are having to hold a Bible in one hand and a drink in the other at night just to get to sleep.

And all over the country this is happening – some people are waking up, lost somewhere in the book of Acts with an empty glass beside their bed – and then they get dressed-up like a professional. They march out to pretend with everybody else that everything is wonderful. They may be about to implode from the stress they are carrying. They may have recently stopped cigarettes by replacing them with opioid tablets. But if you ask them, they are going to tell you they are fine. They will probably even smile in a way that makes you believe them.

There are others living for reasons they aren’t sure about anymore. They are nowhere near good, or fine. They are living for an escape. They are looking for an exit. They are giving up. But they are not going to tell anyone that. They will say they are okay.

And people are a lot like chickens. You can’t look at them in the face and tell how they are feeling, but it is okay to not be okay.

You may go through your day thinking everybody around you seems to have it together. And many do. There are people who are happy and successful. But if you ask them how they got there, you will find that – almost without exception – they had times when they were not okay.

I quit a job one time when I was around 22. It was not my first job to quit. I had quit a lot of things. I had quit track. I had quit college. I was planning to quit a marriage. So quitting another job was not a major move, and it wasn’t like my name was on the side of the building. I felt I had little to lose – even though I didn’t have a car at the time, and about three night’s meals left in the freezer.

When I decided to quit, on this first day of this ill-fitted job I had taken, I just walked out…and kept walking. I lived a couple of miles away in a rented townhouse. I knew I could make it home before my ride was due.

And I was pretty low. I was walking along West Front Street, on a sidewalk I had memorized as a kid. It went right by my old elementary school. And along the way I got chased by four dogs.

So now there I was, frantically running down West Front Street – unemployed. The dogs were getting closer, and with few choices, I chanced running into one of the houses. I didn’t know the homeowners that well, and they weren’t expecting me to crash through their screen door, but I figured I could explain things…at least in part.

The dogs turned out to be friendly, and I slipped back out the screen door unnoticed. They stayed with me most of the way home before turning back to their life and leaving me to mine.

That was a lot of years and several cars ago. It’s not a time I often write about. But if you are not okay today, just remember that over time the doors that need to open will be unlocked, and not all barking dogs bite. Life gets better. Ask anybody.


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