Monday, July 27, 2009

Making eggshells from eggs

The other night I went out to a pub with some friends to celebrate my imminent departure. We had a jovial time until, at the end of the night, unpleasantness struck. Without getting too specific, one friend started a fight in the street and the other friend came to his defense. Both ended up with bloodly lips (multiple taxi drivers came to the defense of the other guy) and the three of us were forced to explain the situation to the police (well, I didn't have to explain anything other than that I wasn't part of the fisticuffs).

This event put a damper on the evening and really pissed me off. There is almost no situation where violence is called for and the contretemps certainly could have been avoided with a dash of prudence. Unfortunately, there's no reasoning with drunken stupor.

When I talked to the implicated the following day, they both had varying explanations for the unfortunate event. The friend who started it claims he remembers everything except who threw the first punch. His lack of memory a convenient form of ego protection since, without any physical provocation at all, he started the blowup with a full on, open hand slap to the other guy's face and then chased after the dude swinging wildly, hitting mostly air, and falling flat on his drunk ass at least three times. A small part of me, a very small part, was in hysterics with his clown show of brawling.

The conclusion of this event was anti-climactic. The police didn't do anything aside from annoy us. The other guy took off. And the one taxi driver who claimed that my friend had damaged his cab during the fight refused to produce the taxi or any witnesses and was eventually ignored by the police.

The emotional after effect is more long lasting. I'm still pissed off at my friend. But I'm reserving my anger for an appropriate moment mostly because he's in a downward, depressive cycle that has no clear end in sight. His alcoholism is on the verge of being converted into a chronic disease, a symptom of obvious psychological trauma which I'll not theorize about in this space. Unfortunately, this friend suffers from an advanced case of pride and that makes broaching the subject extremely difficult to impossible. Another friend did talk to this individual about a year ago and that created so much huffing and puffing that the two didn't speak for a solid year.

A part of me would like to judge my friend, speak harsh words, explode with righteous outrage. But I won't do that and not just for pragmatic reasons. No, I won't judge him because I tend to think that when we look at others and see things we do not like, things that we judge, things that are revolting to us, that our revulsion, judgements, and dislikes are a form of ego protection. The things that provoke strong dislikes in others are things that are usually reflected in some part of our own being. Or, to put is more squarely, we tend to judge others for things that are or could be present in ourselves.

For the last several days, I have thought about the event, my friend, and the subsequent going away party we had on Saturday night (in which I drank nothing stronger than orange juice and my friend got tanked again). And while a small part of me continues to be angry with him, most of me just feels sad for him. I think I have a pretty good handle on his emotional situation, I think if he was willing to open up to me I could help him by listening and offering some small advice. Yet, I know that he'll never let me in because to do so would be to admit weakness and he is too proud to do so.

Instead, I'm leaving the country with only a tiny bit of hope that he will right his ship and begin to address that which ails him. I have no great confidence in that hope and I know that I will continue to think of creative ways in which I can deliver the messages I need to deliver. But for now, I feel more useless than useful. I feel as if a friend is drowning in the ocean and ignoring every lifejacket thrown his way. As I learned much earlier in life, I can't jump down the rabbit hole with him even though the alternative is to do nothing.



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