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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sunday Drive: Somewhere Over the Rainbow

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Do dreams ever really come true?  The other day, my truckbuddy Frank posted a video of gay people of a certain age--ahem--reading aloud the letters they would write to their 18-year-old selves, if they could.  Which is all very nice, full of uplifting, inspiring Reader's-Digest-happy-ending thoughts.  Lovely.

But I can't write that kind of letter.  What I would have to tell my 18-year-old self would only scare the hell out of him.  And nobody else wants to hear that kind of truth.  It's practically un-American.

It's true that some things for gay people have gotten much better.  Others, not so much.  Plus ca change, you know?  And then there's just the implacable force of circumstance here and there in the course of my particular life, which no advice would change: boulders in the stream.  Too many boulders make a dam and block the flow of things:  an insuperable obstacle.

In many cases, it's just best that you don't know what's coming to pass.  The only advice I could possibly give anyone is to hope for the best, plan for the worst, ride out the storms when they come as best you can - for they will come, and they will be fierce.  Nevertheless, be kind, very kind, always, though it's often easier said than done.  Play the hand you're dealt.  Don't whine.  Could always be worse.  Bloom where you are planted.  Better to fail at something than to never even try.

So what if other people have lives in glorious technicolor, and you have only one not-so-brilliant hue?  All those colors come at a high price:  from those to whom much is given, much is expected.  Be content with what you do have and enjoy it.  Nobody has a perfect life, though many pretend otherwise, and nobody has The Answer to anything, so trust your own experience and common sense.  You are your own best moral compass, so stick to your guns.

And then there are those I've loved and lost--as someone, sometime has said, "Grief is the price you pay for love."  Well, that's exactly right, isn't it?  The hibiscus blossoms in the bright sunshine outside my window last only a day - one must treasure their blazing beauty, glory in them, while they last, and be content with that.  If they wither and fade, is that failure--or simply what is meant to be?  What has to be.  Quien sabe?

The cycles of day and night, the passing seasons of the year, the flowers, the leaves, the rippling brook, the fleeting clouds in the sky, sun and moon and scintillating stars all proclaim with one accord a certain sad but lovely truth to the eye of wisdom.  What that message is, I leave to my truckbuddies to decide.

But here I am, somehow in the autumn of my years, but blessed to live another shining summer of life.  In place of a letter, here is my salute to the always hopeful, ever-festive, gaily flourishing, fearless midsummer month of June--exquisitely sung by the late Eva Cassidy, whose life was much too short:


Frank said...

Russ, I'm not sure what to say...perhaps a letter to your 18-yr-old self, explaining that his future may not be full of uplifting, inspiring Reader's-Digest-happy-endings may be just as important and supportive and heartfelt and inspiring to us and to many young LGBTs as those in the video. Just a thought.

Russ Manley said...

That *is* that letter to my younger self, Frank.

Do the best you can with what you have to work with. You pays your money and you takes your chances - best if you reach the end of the ride with a clear conscience and happy memories of love, gratitude, and humility.

All this is very vague I know, but it's all anyone can really tell a young person - we each have to learn The Lesson for ourselves - and all I'm going to say. Personal details would add nothing of general interest, trust me. It's not a Reader's-Digest story.

Probably most other stories are not, either. But it is a grave social error to admit it.

Not that it's been all bad - I am very, very grateful for all the good parts, and for every blessing great and small. And I have done a couple of things I am proud of. I could wish there were more and better, but life is what it is. Enough said.

Frank said...

Well, Russ, I, for one, am grateful for having had the opportunity to get to know you through this blogosphere where we have exchanged our thoughts and ideas and peeves and hopes and prayers. I look forward to reading BTRS and I am just a bit sorry that I've fallen way behind with RR. I always appreciate your comments and take on things - you are thoughtful and eloquent.

You've read my memoir, so you know that it wasn't exactly a walk in the park (and I still sometimes struggle with depression and anxiety). But we are survivors. Given the the times and the milieu we grew up in, that alone is something to be proud of. (I was going to say: "that alone is the best "fuck you" we can give to our oppressors." But I wanted to be a bit more positive.)

Anyhow, take care, enjoy, be well.

Russ Manley said...

Thanks so much for the verbal hug, Frank. Appreciate ya.

Yes, we have survived, and that's saying something. We've seen a breathtaking change in society in the space of a lifetime - I enjoyed reading your account of all that. I guess that makes us all comrades in arms, as it were. I'll never have the patience to write it all out as you did - I can only muster a few lines now and then, obliquely, here in the BT. The scars still hurt.

The fact of this being a historically gay week (Stonewall, court decisions, rainbow flag, etc.) put me in a pensive mood when I selecting a tune for Sunday Drive. But not to worry - it's all water under the bridge now. Life goes on, and we even have plenty of good food to rejoice over here, as I've blogged about many times.

We must enjoy what we have while we have it. And be grateful. That's all I really wanted to say.

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