I walked in and sat on the counselor couch one morning last year. Feeling extra burdened and anxious.
A smile had been my go to greeting forever, but I couldn’t crack one that day.
I’m sure he could sense it on my face, thankfully I’ve gotten worse at hiding my emotions the past couple years.
A game I used to be so good at, one I didn’t even know I was playing.
He made a comment that I remember to have been something like, “It’s really hard isn’t it? Especially when everyone else is just walking around pretending like things are fine.”
Yes, that. Exactly.
I was in the middle of figuring out who the heck I really am, with my wife along for the bumpy ride.
It felt like hanging out on the beach on a beautiful sunny day, then all of a sudden being shipwrecked in the middle of the night and not knowing if your lungs would keep enough salt water out before someone came to help.
All the while, it’s smiles and bro hugs and neighborhood barbecues all around.
Everything and everyone else was fine. And I was far from it.
If you haven’t listened to any of the Avett Brothers music, you should. They’re incredible.
A lyric that rattles around in my brain often is from their song, True Sadness.
“But I still wake up, shaken by dreams. And I hate to say it, but the way it seems is that no one is fine. Take the time, to peel a few layers and you will find…true sadness.”
Bright and cheery huh?
But the more conversations I have, the more real questions I ask, the more intimacy I experience with my wife and friends, I think they’re right on the money.
Instead of the smile to hide the pain, fear, anxiety and sadness, it’s actually comforting to know we are all facing difficult circumstances of some kind.
Take the time to peel back the layers…
Of success. Of suburbia. Of all the ways we distract and numb ourselves.
And you’ll find that no one is fine.
Which is much more human and better than pretending we are.