A Friend Who Can Laugh At Your Future

 

             “Last night I dreamed that I went after It until I was 35. I would see my birthday cake with one more candle on it. Then I turn around and They look at  me and say ‘no.’ Then I see another candle on my cake and I turn around again… When I finally woke myself up I was sobbing. I’ve never done that before. What if I never get It?”

            At this he threw back his head and laughed. That was the only noise he made.

            Jewish women have a tradition of asking to be “a woman who laughs at the future.” It comes from the book of Proverbs in a chapter which reveals what a revered woman looks like. This quality, the older I get, I find particularly hard to swallow. I am a master planner, so much so that I can make Stalin’s five year plan look like shortsightedness. After this dream, I was a combination of enraged and terrified. What if I never reached my goals? What if I just stayed stuck exactly where I was? And where the heck did my friend get off laughing at my perfectly legitimate fears?

            It was the last question momentarily overshadowed the other worries. He knew this was important to me, he could laugh at my worries? How could he just shrug off my nightmares and move on to his next task without saying anything to me? What kind of friend was that?

            “Because I know you. And I know it won’t happen that way.”

            It was a simple statement said while passing through tables and serving drinks. He said it in answer to my explosive challenge to his behavior. He swiftly had me defused. I sat at the bar and sat still for a moment. My friend dismissed my fears so easily. Not by building up some dramatic and inspiring speech where at the end of it the cripple is in tears and feels inspirational, but just as if he could state plain fact and keep walking because the statement took no concentration to say. It won’t happen that way.

            I am, on my worst days, very far from a woman who can laugh at her future. I suppose, for those of us who haven’t gotten there yet, having a friend who can do so is all the more precious. It is not that he recognizes my worries as irrational that is to be treasured; there is nothing more aggravating when you’re actually worried than a friend who says “you’re ridiculous, stop it.” Rather, it is the ability to look at the demon square in the eye and poke its nose that I admire. And after he’s done that, your friend walks back to you and says “you can take him,” because he knows its your demon to fight and not his.

            Perhaps I will be 35 and still fighting this battle I fear. Maybe I’ll never reach  what I want. Make it so. Each time rejection happens I’ll go back to my friend, sometimes with my head hung low. And he will no doubt laugh. He will laugh at the absurd idea that I should ever consider myself defeated.