Never should one ask, if not prepared for truth, to go back. Bliss simply does not tolerate the answer or the journey. Convenient memory is a sweeter comfort than truth. But urged to do so either by some latent curiosity or just by friendly encouragement, I picked up the phone to inquire about Daniel. His life, long lost to me except in deep, submerged impressions and memories now risen, the time had come for me to know what happened to my friend. Is he still living? What happened to him during our long separation? Will anyone remember him as I did?
My initial inquiry told me I would have to dig deeper into the archives. It told me the end of this story would take time and careful questioning if Daniel’s life measured or deserved equal weight with the purity of feeling within my heart.
I have often thought of Daniel and me as kindred souls, two lives passing through circumstance, friends before any preconception interfered with perception. Nothing in life has happened since to dissuade me from the bond we formed. No matter what my inquiry finds, my hope is nothing will. But then, there is always an unknown and even when I say life separated us, I admit I am simply not a particularly good friend.
I do not know what I will find. Some initial sketches suggest a hard outcome, a side of Daniel I witnessed one day when his anger erupted. But don’t the quiet ones often explode under pressure? Daniel’s gentle nature permeates my memory.
Going back risks pain. But pain is the great truth-teller, the means by which we discover our true self, bare before God, admitting that self to God, recognizing Him and asking forgiveness.
No one seeks irrelevance. History is motivated by our reaction, unwitting and intentional, to any attempt to render us so. Going back to my early time with Daniel risks discovering how he reacted, and worse, the truth Daniel’s life may not measure well against my good feeling.
Isn’t irrelevance as simple as asking, “How are you?” and not meaning it? Doesn’t irrelevance inform us all is not well? And though Daniel lived under no delusion—I did. Going back, for me at least, is an attempt to affirm his life. Maybe my good feeling and realization is affirmation enough.
I cannot be disingenuous. Though I know Daniel has departed this life and, minus any detail I shall discover, I know his life was harsh by his own hand and by the hands of others. In truth, embedded in my good feeling and memory and during my time with him, I knew within my recesses, his life would not live well.
But I am going back. I want to know, not what I already know, but what remains for truth and Daniel to teach me, to lay bare before God any self-deception left.
I’ll let you know.
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Mathew 11:15, NKJV).