Books for Everyone!

30 May 2021

Serendipity: The Path Not Taken

I’ve not ever fully, or at all, thanked a rank hypocrite for helping me to write so many chapters of THE DAWN, along with NOCTURNE, THE GHOST, and dozens of essays on this site. You see, this person did not know that he was single-handedly dredging up for me so many unpleasant, even painful memories from my first years here in the Golden State.

He has a given name; in fact, he has many given names. The most accurate is Almighty Snob. For the sake of coming to the aid of people near to him, but not necessarily dear to him, I endured many an insulting moment in his presence. He was the one handing out just about every insult that I’d had to put up with during the early 1980s in Sacramento, California, except these newer stings had the hollow ring of the Millennial Man:

I’m Mr. Big because I’ve rubbed elbows with Bigs Wigs, and you are small because you’re an outsider. To show you how big and important I am, I shall take every opportunity to put you down, to display to others in the room how much of an Outsider you are. You’re an Easterner; you don’t belong in my rarified circle of the Capital City which, by 2000, became a Big City.

My inevitable and inescapable response to such a person, and particularly to a male person, is to verbally and concisely annihilate him; if necessary, I give at least an eye for an eye, and two teeth for one tooth. Alas and alack! I found myself in the company of a dear friend, a dear spouse, and professional associates.

Cowards usually travel in packs. Rarely does the sneak provoker stand there alone, where he might have to confront, one-on-one, his victim.

I wasn’t even consciously aware of the past coming to life for me during those despicable times when someone much richer than me, and with sizable social status and business influence believed that the best way to deal with any newcomer is to not let her come — to wherever it is that she just might make a wonderful difference, and be more successful, more popular, more admired than the Status Quo Home-field Advantage Hoarder.

If I’d been given the choice to not relive all of those injurious memories from my distant past, I likely would have decided to forego the déjà vus coming at me, or emerging from within my psyche.

It hurts to re-visit unhealed wounds, especially the ones you think you’ve already healed. Such is the folly of any person who tries to go it alone in this world, without the gracious hand of her Creator.

I wasn’t intentionally foolish, or even arrogant where my inner scars were concerned. I was well aware of unanswered prayers; and I’d indeed prayed for resolution to the puzzles of my past. Little did I know, or know enough to know, that those puzzles could be solved and resolved only through walking a path I’d trod before, and then by taking the unchosen path, the abandoned road I’d left behind me.

That road now loomed before me. And, in spite of my sense of fury, because of my sense of righteous indignation, and for the sake of my own soul — I walked away from the unfair fights this person had lured his loved ones into.

Only my loved ones know how extraordinarily difficult it is for me to walk away from unstacking the stacked deck that threatens to do undue harm to someone else. Pulling my punch when a foul individual deserves to be clobbered is like asking water to flow uphill.

And yet I did it.

I said fare thee well to victims whom I knew would be further victimized by the coward they’d trusted, perhaps even loved. I walked to the future, one foot in front of the other, warning myself to not look back, lest I become that pillar of salt that the wife of Lot turned into. I honestly did silently tell myself: “Do not look back. You will turn into a pillar of salt.”

I prayed for justice from the Lord for those wounded individuals; and I prayed for the ability to accept that I’d done my part, and had done it well enough that the miserable fate belonging to Mr. Big would come to him; and that the people he’d betrayed would come to understand their own painful truths, the reality that I’d seen right away, upon meeting him.

I’d seen too many and too much of that type of person in the Northeast, and in Washington, D.C. Naively, with an almost comical naïveté, I’d believed that such wretched souls could not exist in California:

There’s all of that open space, all of that freedom to become whatever you want to become.

Even with all of that open space, and that abundant and blessed freedom, a person can still screw up his life. Some might say that the unbounded expanses engender a dangerous sense of invincibility; and a certain type of individual cannot handle, wisely, or cautiously, that much liberty.

He fouls up fast his duration on this earth. He then refuses to admit to his own errors. That haughty blindness to being mortal is but one toxic consequence hollowing out a heart all too willing to be corrupted. The hollow heart knows fraudulence in a way only the devil can appreciate. That smug contemptible behavior drove me to a spiritual corner of my own solace.

From that solace, I received the solace of my Maker. I’ll be perfectly honest here and state that being humbled to receive the blessings of a divine power was, and is, the key to being able to walk away from the evil that not only lurked in the heart of that man, but thrived there. In time, a decade’s worth of time, he was confronted with all of the harm that he had done, all of the damage that he had tried to force others to undo.

In silence, and in sorrow, I said: “You created this mess. You alone will have to clean it up.”

He even knew he’d created that mess, and then had foisted on me the duty of dealing with it — for him. As much as I wanted to continue to come to the aid of his victims, I could not enable his evil. I could not with a conscience permit him the liberty of escaping the consequences of the beastly world he’d built to isolate and punish the people he claimed to love and protect.

He’d constructed a lovely prison into which he’d caged weaker people through taking advantage of their most basic needs. I walked away from that entrapment, believing that, one day, that man would no longer be the almighty jailer, but the jailed.

In modern parlance, this act is called “tough love”. Initially, it feels a whole lot tougher on the actor than on the acted upon.

Recently, I granted myself the opportunity to look back, without the fear of becoming a pillar of salt. I discovered that the house divided against itself had fallen; and the dear ones I’d sought to protect were in a safe place, away from the cruelties of a man whose heart and soul are so cavernous that those chambers, normally filled with virtue and love, must ping from their own putrid bitterness.

I need not thank that person for anything, intended or otherwise. To God be the glory; indeed it is and forevermore shall be.