On the other hand, even my very best friends describe me as having common Leo weaknesses such as being domineering, stubborn and even vain. I don't think of myself as domineering or stubborn, it's just that I'm hardly ever at a loss about how things should be done, and it's difficult for me to waste time with discussion of lessor ideas
|A Friend in Need Is A Friend Indeed|
Some people don't like me of course. But some of my friends have been my friends for much of my life. I guess it's true. We Leos have the ability to lift up one's spirits and provide encouragement when times are rough. Our natural enthusiasm attracts people. Like other Leos, I guess some would say I'm a social butterfly, not because I want to be but because people always naturally gravitate to and surround a Leo. Leos are very difficult people to not like, they are usually fairly balanced, realistic people. They never dwell on the past and they think those who do are strange. Leo's hold nothing in regard just because its always been that way. Leo's are always ready to affect change to make things better. Some Leos might be too caught up in themselves and be very self-centered but I'd like to think that's not me. I'm never too self-absorbed to help anyone who needs it. A Leo is the ultimate friend. We do not hold a grudge and we are very forgiving. We have respect and understanding of people's differences. We understand that everyone can't be a Leo (grin)
One of the ways I know I'm weird is the way I think about people. When I find myself in a crowd of people with time on my hands, I invariably begin to notice people. Our recent trip to Europe gave me several opportunities to observe people. When we fly out of Houston, I always like to get to the airport at least three hours early. It builds in time for adjustments to the unexpected; and after we're checked in, I enjoy relaxing and having a light breakfast and a Bloody Mary in the United Club.
Observing people in the club is always interesting. Obviously, many of the people in the club are business men and women. They are well dressed whether in suits or casual dress. I find myself thinking that here are men and women who have much of their live behind them. They've lived those lives for years and our paths have never crossed and will never cross again. Some of the other travelers are obviously off to a holiday. Sometimes I spot a woman and child who are most likely off to meet a husband and father or perhaps parents and grandparents. I know everyone in the place is successful in one way or the other. They have to be to be able to pay the price for a first class ticket. But I also know that like everyone, these people have hopes and dreams, triumphs and tragedies in their lives just as I do. Yet, I know nothing of them other than that they are relatively successful people on a journey. I think it would be interesting, and probably beneficial to know the life stories of these people. What could I learn from them that would make me a better person. What could I teach them that would add value to their already successful lives. But I realize I never will have the chance to get to know them. From Houston's International Airport, they will scatter to the far corners of the earth and continue to live lives that will never intersect with mine again.
I often attend the Texans games at Reliant Stadium. The stadium can hold more than 60,000 fans. Most of these people never get close enough to really see their faces, but I do see the faces of other tailgaters in the parking lot. I see those walking up the ramps around me to enter the stadium. I see the faces of those in my seating section and the sections to either side and behind me. My seats happen to be right in front of Texans Owner, Bob McNair's personal box suite. Looking back into the box, I often see people I know because of their personal fame. In years past George and Barbara Bush were often seated in the box. Sometimes they still are but President Bush's health is beginning to interfere with his ability to get out and around. Sometimes a well known music and recording star will be there. Other times I will recognize a local or state politician. I know something about these people, but even they, have a life that is and always will be mostly hidden from me. But I know, even as famous people, they have their challenges and their problems to deal with. In most cases I'll never know about those things. I'll only know the public lives they present to the world.
In the crowd that surrounds me there are always interesting people. It's easy to spot those who are at every game. One comes to know them by sight. It's easy to spot those who are there because they came with someone who loves football even though they are not really a fan themselves. It's easy to spot those who had to sacrifice to buy a ticket. NFL tickets are not a bargain by any means. And of course, its easy to spot those who are such loyal fans of the opposing team that they've traveled hundreds if not more than a thousand miles to see their team play the Texans. They are always dressed in the accouterments of their team. Most of them are good natured and easy going, yet fervent in their support for their team. They have to be to sit surrounded by the enthusiastic Texans fans who spend the whole game razzing them, especially if the Texans are winning. Most of these people have lived their whole lives and never come into my sight. Even those I do recognize live personal lives I know nothing or very little about. After the game, they will all scatter and return to those lives which are unknown to me. Obviously, there are those among them who could have been close, even dear friends of mine had fate brought us together in a more personal way; those friendships are never to be realized. What have I missed from those potential friendships? Or, perhaps that is not the case at all. Perhaps, fate always brings us into contact with those who are meant to change our lives and those whose lives we are meant to change. Much in my life has convinced me that is really the case.
I spent a while this afternoon deleting names from my Yahoo! Messenger Contact List. Because I come into contact with so many people, I usually don't add a contact to my list unless I've talked with him a few times and have something in common with him other than my bisexuality.
There are people on my contact list whom I've never met face to face, but whom I consider to be personal friends. We talk often and in depth. There are other people on my contact list who became such good friends that I made a point to meet them face to face and they have become regular friends who are very important to me.
But this afternoon, I was dealing with those who I once chatted with regularly, but who have since drifted away. Most of them I once knew where they lived. I knew if they were struggling to reconcile their sexuality and their faith or if they were struggling with the guilt that acting on their bisexual or homosexual desires caused them to have regarding their relationship with their wives. I knew those who had been laid off their jobs and were struggling to find new employment. I knew those who were struggling with health issues or the health issues of someone they love. I knew those who were struggling with loneliness. But all these people have drifted away from any contact with me. Most of them are now only names on my contact list. They have been so long absent from any discourse with me that their individual stories have faded from my mind.
There were two exceptions, the name Bill Wessenberg was one. Bill and I had been friends for many years. I knew almost all there was to know about Bill. Bill had lived a life no one would envy. His life had been a series of tragedies, most of them horrible tragedies. Bill had every reason to curse his life and to curse God for it, but he never did. He remained positive about his life, and he always made lemonade out of the lemons in his life. It wasn't that his life didn't get him down. It did. But he never stayed down for long. He always came back fighting and giving. Bill had several blessings in his life. He was a very wealthy man and he had grandkids whom he loved more than anything in this world. He spent his last years making sure that his grandkids were taken care of. In the process he set up a foundation to make sure that other kids who had little in life would be taken care of too.
This summer Bill's grandkids all went to London. Bill had planned the trip and had looked forward to it, but his brain cancer took him before he could make the trip. His young grandson contacted me to tell me Bill had passed away. He and the rest of the kids had scattered Bill's ashes in a place he loved in life, a beautiful place he would retreat to when he was dealing with the tragedies of his life. His grandson filled me in on the arrangements Bill had made for their care in anticipation of his death. He assured me they would all be fine and want for nothing other than their grandfather. But in a way they had him too because Bill had left behind his diaries chronicling his life with its great tragedies and its triumphs over those tragedies. Reading those diaries, his young grandson was beginning to pair the love he had always felt for his grandfather with the same admiration I had always had for Bill because he had done so much for so many when lesser men would have curled up and retreated from a cruel world. I find myself wondering though how his grandkids will fare. Will they use the great advantages Bill left them to build lives of service to themselves and others as Bill did, or will privilege turn them soft and spoiled? I'll never know, but I choose to think the influence of their grandfather will prevail and they will become productive and successful adults.
It was because of the kindness of his young grandson, that I knew Bill had finally succumbed to his cancer. I can't help but wonder how many of the contacts I deleted from my Messenger Contact list today have also passed on? Of those still living I can't help but wonder if their drifting out of contact with me is the result of them overcoming their challenges and beginning a new life in which advice and encouragement are no longer needed, or if instead it is indicative of their having been overcome by their challenges and drifted back into an unhappy and unfulfilled shell. I'll never know, but I hope they have found happiness. I know, in spite of my hope, that the likelihood is they didn't.
I guess it's the Leo in me because I do know I hate not knowing that all is well with these casual friends. I hate even more thinking the possibility they have simply given up on finding and enjoying life as it was meant to be. I hate the thought I might have failed to encourage them enough or that they may have fallen through the cracks of my busy life and felt I had deserted them.
The other exception is my friend Rick. I'm still in contact with Rick but we have long since begun to use the phone for our talks. Rick is a dear friend and a great guy. Rick is his real name and I know he reads this blog. Rick was once married and had two sons. He is a homosexual man. The time came when Rick decided to do what he thought was the right thing and tell his wife the truth about himself. She ended the marriage and his sons, unfortunately, ended their relationship with their father. Loosing his sons was a blow to Rick that he'll never really recover from, yet he made every effort to go on with his life.
Rick didn't want casual homosexual sex. What he wanted was a partnership with another man like himself. A couple of years ago, he thought he had found that partnership. He found a man he came to love and who professed to love him. They had a ceremony blessing their relationship. All was well for a short time, but Rick soon began to see indications his partner was cheating on him on a regular basis. At first he tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, but the evidence became overwhelming. He confronted his partner and he promised to stop having sex with other guys, but it was an empty promise. Soon the evidence of his indiscretions was mounting again. Rick left.
To add to his challenges, Rick had once had a high paying job but the economic downturn of 2008 had taken that job and all he had been able to find since was minimum wage jobs with which he could hardly make ends meet.
Rick's heartbreak over his partner was such that he felt he had to get away. He quit his low paying job and went to Europe to visit a friend there. He thought perhaps he could start a new life in Europe. He admits now that was the wrong thing to do. He's back in the states now looking for some way to start over.
Rick's story is one of those which challenges not only my view of the word but my faith. In my view of the world, if one is a good person, works hard, cares about others and plays by the rules, he is rewarded. In my faith I believe that God loves each of us equally and that He wants each of us to be happy. I believe God blesses each of us to the extent we are able to handle those blessing for our own benefit and the benefit of others. But Rick's story, his life, challenges both of those important paradigms I hold dear. Rick is an exceptionally good guy. He genuinely cares about others and he has much to give. Yet, he simply can't seem to catch a break.
I find the only thing I can keep saying to Rick is to never give up and to keep on searching. "You're never truly defeated until you give up," I told him. I believe that to be the truth but even the strongest among us needs at least a small victory along the way to encourage us to carry on. So far Rick has not had even the small victory.
A lessor man would have long since given up, but so far Rick hasn't. He's had time to think, to realize that though he loved his partner he did the right thing by leaving since he was being used. He's has a plan now that he is going to try to implement. God knows, he needs a break. I'm praying that it works out.
I hate that some of us seem to have it all while others seem to never have enough. It burns the shit out of me, to tell the truth, especially when it is a good man like Rick who deserves so much more. Yet I am wise enough to understand that like it or not, life is seldom fair in the hands she deals us. I cling to the hope and the belief that persistence will always ultimately be rewarded. As even the Bible says, the poor and the poor of spirit will always be with us. I get that because, frankly, people make wrong choices. They don't get an education when it is offered. They turn to drugs to numb themselves from their problems. They turn to crime to take more than they deserve, or they simply give up. I get why these kinds of people are poor and poor of spirit. I don't get it at all when great guys like Rick simply can't seem to catch a break in life.
I do know the lesson my friend Bill, who recently entered into a civil partnership, taught me. I am Bill's friend. I encouraged him in changing his life for years. I offered suggestions about how changes could be made. I supported him in both good times and bad. But the one thing Bill did that I couldn't do was do his work. I got the easy job, giving him the benefit of my experience through advice. His was the hard job, doing the work to use the advice and change his life.
Friendships are such a great thing. I value all my friendships. There are friends of mine for whom I would take a bullet. They and their happiness mean that much to me. But there is one thing no friend can do for us. Friends cannot change our lives. We have to do that work on our own. Our friends can encourage us. They can offer suggestions, but each of us must do the work ourselves. We must always be aware that in the end, we can never choose what life gives us or takes from us. We can, however, choose how we deal with the challenges life brings us. We can even choose how we deal with the successes life brings us. Mismanaging our successes is just as bad as mismanaging our challenges.
I know this blog is read by many people who want to and need to change their lives. I know some have been waging an uphill battle for years to do just that and can't seem to catch a break. Honestly, in some cases, like my friend Rick's, I don't know why that is; but it is. My only advice is to never quit. Never give up! Never drift away from your friends. Strive to make new ones who might offer new suggestions and new advice. A man can never have too many friends, and one never knows just where he will find the key to fulfillment. Looking back on my own life, I find the key to a fulfilling life for me was really more like a code word and many people had a piece of the code word. My mother gave me a very important pieces as did my father. Important teachers passed on other pieces of the code word. My wife gave me vital parts of the code word, and then there were my friends, some of them friends I would have never met had I not determined to explore and come to understand my bisexuality. My friend Mike, is an example of that. Were it not for my bisexuality, I would have never met Mike and he has been one of the most important people in my adult life. Knowing Mike taught me so much about myself and he passed to me vital parts of the code word that led to fulfillment.
I believe each of us is created with a purpose, and I believe each of us has a part to play in life that will bring good to us and, just as importantly, to those around us. I don't believe the purpose for which we were born can stay hidden from us forever if we don't give up on finding it. I believe that each of us can find triumph in life no matter how great the challenge and no matter how long we have to endure the challenge.
I often think of the life of Winston Churchill. He was born into a life of privilege at a time and in a country where only the privileged became highly educated. But though he was born in one of the great palaces of England, he led a rather ordinary life until he was an old man. But as the dark clouds of World War II gathered around England and the country found itself in an existential struggle like nothing the world had ever seen before, Churchill rose to a position of power as Prime Minister of the war torn country. He used his considerable oratorial skills to rally the people in the darkest hours of their lives. He used his considerable military skills to out maneuver the greatly superior strength of the German war machine and he used his friendship with Franklin Roosevelt along with his considerable powers of persuasion to bring a reluctant United States of America into a war it wanted nothing to do with.
When victory was won after a struggle of many years, Churchill lost the Prime Ministership and returned to a private and rather ordinary life. It was as if he had been born for the sole purpose of leading the nation through its darkest hour. I believe that to be true.
We all have a purpose, some great, some small; but all vital to ourselves and to others. By fulfilling our purpose we pave the way for others to fulfill theirs, and through each of us fulfilling our part we ensure the triumph of life for ourselves and for others! It was my friends who helped me to come to terms with my bisexuality, come to accept it and eventually come to see it as a true gift. Work hard at building friendships with guys like yourself, and don't let them fade away.