At a coffee shop waiting to meet a person, I heard someone else say my name. It was a guy I worked with when I was in college and he was in high school. We always got along, helped by a shared fondness for Springsteen's Tunnel Of Love and singing while we were supposed to be stocking shelves, filling propane tanks, cleaning, or helping customers with plumbing questions. I felt myself open into a smile and reached to shake his hand.

We talked like semi-old men. I asked about his girls, and he said that he had just been telling one of them about our old boss. I said, I've seen him around town a couple times. I didn't mention his red baseball hat that marks him as exactly the kind of man he was and always will be. I just said I'd seen him.

"He's still alive?" my friend asked, feigning shock. I nodded and admitted that I had avoided conversation. I hadn't even waved. He hadn't seem to recognize me or chose to act as though he hadn't.

My friend said he had told his girl about maybe the one bit of wisdom our boss had ever knowingly imparted to anyone.

It was back when my friend was walking around the store in untied work boots, clunking and scuffing along as was the style then (and maybe now too). Our boss called from his office, come in here. My friend went, expecting to be told to clean out the shed, vacuum the housewares section, or restock the pesticides, but no, our boss said, _don't let me hear you scuffing your boots like that. You sound lazy."

Our old boss had been wrong about many things, but both my friend and I agreed if you sound lazy, you might as well be lazy, and then forget about you.

When I taught kids who were all but labeled stupid, I told them to try and sound smart. If you sound smart, people may think you're smart, and that's almost as good because it gets you in with smart people which makes you smarter. On the flip-side, if your go-to words are fuck, nigga, and bitch, you sound anything but smart and the world will gladly treat you as such.

I heard arguments for the culture of those words, but they're the same arguments for scuffing boots. No matter what, these things project our identity and are how others project identities onto us.

My friend and I smiled at the story. The person I was meeting arrived. I shook my friend's hand again and he went on his way. The person I met had the feeling I was more capable than I really am. I've projected confidence. After our meeting, I walked out of the shop and across the street, my shoes tight against my feet, not scuffing even a little.

A Visit & Morning Pages

My friend is here. I picked him up at the airport yesterday. We stayed up last night talking until almost two which made getting up at six a challenge but well worth it to spend time with a friend I haven't seen in a year and a half. The lack of sleep is nothing. I want to soak up every moment.

Last night, just the two of us in the living room, he said, "I love your house. It's so cozy." He's not the first to say so and each time I take it two ways. One, we make a comfortable home. Two, it's a simple kind of place. I don't mean that we have a shabby house, but no one will mistake it for fancy. It has no pretensions and feels simply like home. That's how it felt to my friend and how it feels to me.

Some of this is the effect of the furniture and decorations, but it's more that my daughters chose to sit out in the living room with their mother and me and my old college roommate. They talked and listened, joked and told stories. The comfort of this home comes from the four of us and it's palpable. Even after my wife and the girls had gone up to bed, there was the feeling of comfort and ease that comes only with a long-term friendship and a place in which two old friends can sink back into things as though no time at all has passed. No wonder we stayed up almost to two.

Four hours of sleep and off my schedule I got up, emptied the dishwasher, got laundry out of the dryer for my older daughter to have the right clothes for school, opened the blinds, turned off the furnace, and sat down to write three Morning Pages. There's a comfort there as well, though I wanted to go back to sleep or make a cup of coffee. The comfort is in doing what I do, what I have done. I sat down, uncapped the pen, and figured myself out with blue ink over three pages. I think about the blog post for the day, an idea I mapped out a couple days ago, and a note I want to write to a friend.

Less than half a page in, I'm in the groove. I have momentum and energy like rolling downhill into the sunrise.

The writing sets the table for the meal of my morning, afternoon, and evening. It creates a mood, a way of being. The results of this aren't anything I can measure or set down in exact figures try as I might. It is instead a feeling, one about which I'm as sure as of anything. The pages open me for the day, put me in a space and mode. From there the day flows.

There are things about Morning Pages which go beyond the boundaries of the written word, the ineffable effects that, like friendship, comfort, warmth, and love, must be felt perhaps without any logical understanding. Why do I do Morning Pages? Why should you? I can only begin to tell you. The rest you need to feel.

My friend said, "we have to find ways to see each other more than once a year." Why do we need to see each other? Who bother when we live so far apart? To push this defies logic. Of course it does. There is no logic in friendship, in love, in the simple need to fill three pages by hand this morning after staying up until two with my friend and then waking at six with the family. It all defies logic and works at some other level.

I'm willing to call that level what it is: magic.

An Amazing Gift

"...the universe has sent me some amazing gifts just when I thought it had forgotten me."
— Carol Mikoda

I have good friends who write well.

The message above came to me this morning and has stuck with me all through a tough day. I've been feeling very much at the end of my rope for the last few months. There are times when I appreciate the goodness around and within me. Then there is all that dark time when I spiral. I've been so tired all day and while those sixteen words haven't been quite enough to fill me with energy, renew all my hopes, and get me over all my troubles, they have certainly buoyed me and allowed me to float a little better than otherwise.

What amazing gifts has the universe sent to you?