For the record,
I do not condone or support the way “I was”
Or the way I “used to” be.
I laugh about this now.
I can do that because I’ve matured some,
at least a little.
Or, maybe only slightly
but at last,
I have learned to laugh at myself,
at my past,
at the things I did and what I said.
I can laugh at my old beliefs
because, of course, now that I understand them
and now that I understand where my thinking came from
or why I thought the way I did,
I have the ability to look back and be grateful
because, put simply,
that’s not me
anymore . . .
I know who I was
same as I know who I am now
and yes, looking back, thankfully
there is no video evidence or any of
the photos of my younger days
are either missing, in the trash
or they have been destroyed –
gone, to protect the souls
of us who are “less-than”
I remember an older co-worker of mine.
He came to my house for dinner.
He was mentioning how well I was doing
he knew about me –
he knew about my past.
In fact, he once told me,
no one would know it by looking at you
or by hearing you talk.
I was different at this time but
I was still somewhat fiery,
somewhat aggressive and
I was certainly less than innocent.
I walked my older friend
through the basement
he could help me diagnose a problem
with my furnace.
Along the way, he noticed a bag which was opened
and some of the contents
were partially missing.
he asked, slightly nervous –
It’s fifty-foot of waterproof fuse.
as in a fuse for explosives . . .
he asked me,
Why do you have fifty-feet
of waterproof fuse?
I told him
because I used to be a really angry guy.
okay, then why do you still have it?
I told him . . .
because sometimes, you never know.
He never came to my house again.
Years ago –
I was sitting in a group session.
I was angry.
Frustrated and tired of all the nonsense.
To hell with this, I thought
I was tired of listening to the others. I was tired of their bitching
I was tired of hearing them gripe
or complain about their life
or the life they wished they had.
I thought to myself, what kind of life is this?
I’m here, against my will, held in
by invisible mandates
and a judge’s word that “Son,
so help me God,
I’ll see you do every day in jail
if you get out of line,
I remember this time.
I remember the groups too
I was tired of these people
I pointed my finger at a few of them.
I told them what I thought.
The counselor found my observations interesting
You know, Benny –
Every time you point a finger at someone,
you have three fingers pointing back at you.
I said, “Oh yeah?”
Then I opened my hand, flat,
and extending my arm outward
with all of my fingers pointing towards her
“Well you’re an asshole.”
It’s amazing what people do
to avoid looking at themselves,
The old me, that is.
A man threw a stone inside his glass house
He stood around for hours
wondering where the draft came from
and, of course,
I applauded his abilities
to make matters worse.
We are good at this too.
You. me, and the world in-between us
It’s amazing to me,
how we fight and we bicker;
we barter and we trade
between each other,
only to do nothing more
than dig ourselves in –
It’s amazing how we blame, condemn,
or how we criticize and, meanwhile,
most people I know
couldn’t pass their own test,
let alone survive the judgment
of somebody else’s
but yet, let’s keep pointing fingers, right?
Look how well we’ve done so far . . .
We’re in a world of pots and kettles,
and you and I, each of us in our own way,
we all have our own shades of gray.
We’re all here, trying to find accountability.
We’re all trying to understand
why we’re at where we’re at or
if we can’t understand why,
then we’re off to point fingers
until we find someone to blame. . .
but I guess this is nothing new.
It’s been this way for centuries.
There used to be a man on the subway
I’d see him all the time
He’d hand out flyers about salvation
and talked about the resurrection.
He’d say that we should all repent.
He said that we’re all going to burn
He said this as if he would be one of the few
standing at the Gates of Heaven
and punching tickets at the door.
Come to think of it,
One of my favorite quotes from The Son of Man
is when he stood up and said to the crowd,
“He among you who is without sin,
let him be the one to cast the first stone.”
Of course, no one could.
My faith might be different –
But I dig Jesus.
As for throwing the first stone –
No one can.
No one is so clean or righteous.
Although, in fairness,
I can say that I’ve seen people put on a good show.
I’ve met people who play a fair game yet
even they have a few transgressions
they’d like to keep from the light.
So, yeah . . .
no one can throw the first stone.
if you want to make a bet,
I’ll bet you there’s a long line out there, somewhere,
and everyone on it is just waiting for someone to be first,
just so they can jump on the bandwagon to be next
or to damn someone else for their wrongs –
so they feel better about theirs
You know . . .
I go back to those times in the group sessions
and think about how the counselor
must have hated me – she must have.
Either that or I drove her to drink.
One day . . .
She told me, Benny,
You complain that you have no shoes.
But what about the man with no feet?
My eyebrows folded downwards
My lip curled.
I sort of cocked my head to the side
and thought that she was nothing more
than an idiot . . .
I shook my head at her.
I shot back, He’s got no feet . .
he don’t need shoes –
So, what the fuck does he got to do with me?!?
For the record . . .
I’ve matured since then
(at least slightly)
I’m not who I was
and yes, I find humor
in the way I used to be.
I have grown
I don’t hold things the same way
as I used to
I’m not looking to throw stones
in my glass house
or call the pot, “Kettle”
Or the kettle, “Pot!”
I have my things which I believe
at some point
I will have to answer for them
I’d just rather answer now than later
because interest can be a bitch
and the collections agency in the afterlife
might be too much
for me to deal with.
Oh, and as for hell . . .
I’m not worried about facing damnation.
Besides, I’ve been there before
it’s taken me decades to say this
but now that I’m out
I don’t ever want to go back there again
let me pay what I owe ahead of time
just in case I have to show I.D. at the gates
and there he is,
that asshole from the subway
looking at me and saying
I told you so.