On December 7th, 2023, my friend Ryan Fawkes turned 30 years old. It's surreal when you hit a big number, but even more so when it's someone you know that remains a firey, 18-year-old ready to club hop in your mind. Now, he's on a mission to find himself, apart from all the identities that have been laid upon him. He's grown and changed so much, yet... I see him.
He came to me the day before his birthday with a simple request that I take his photo.
It brought a smile to my heart as it sent me back to the past. About 11 years ago, around the time when he first entered my life, he asked me to take his photo. Well, demanded it really– if you know, Angel (his name back then).
I love and admire Ryan. Since I've known him, he's sought acceptance and love, and he's realizing now that it begins within himself. For anyone like us who experienced rejection and held onto it, we have a difficult time accepting ourselves because someone we highly valued didn't. I, too, have come to realize that we reject in others what we reject within ourselves. With that realization, when people I love ask me...
"Why do you love me?"
I understand, now, that it's a reflective question that's really asking, "Why should I love myself?"
When you watch a series, read a book, or even watch a sports game, why are you doing it when someone else could tell you exactly how it ends? The details of how a character or a team achieved or failed an outcome are what keep you drawn in. The more you can become a part of that story, the more you enjoy it.
Are our individual lives so different? People come and leave our stories every day.
We're the main characters on the world's stage. What we love and hate about others acting on the stage with us are the resolutions and challenges they present. With some, the script is plain and clear, so we know exactly what to do, while with others the situations they present may be ambiguous and we may have to improvise or risk that we fall flat on our performance. Surely embarassing.
In this sense, my love is the willingness to continue playing a role on the stage with you. Accepting the challenges or resolutions you present to me while offering my own to you. To share the stage is love; how deeply is a question of how much value we stock in each other's roles, or in other words, how much influence we allow the other to have over our goals.
Wipe Yo Tears
Celebrating 30 is an accomplishment! American society is filled to the brim with the idea of caring about one another, but the actual acts of kindness and caring are mostly fulfilled by social services, counselors, therapists, and pharmaceutical technicians.
It's easy to feel like a burden simply because you want someone to actually listen to you and not just use active listening skills until they can defer you to someone else.
As one such person, I didn't think I would make it to the age of 21, then when I passed it I felt like every day was just a gift. Some gifts go further than others, while others I wouldn't mind regifting altogether. The greatest gift I've found is the presence of others who are willing to share the stage and continue the ebb and flow of performing together.
I'm proud to be friends with Ryan and I will continue to love and support him until I can perform on this stage no more.
Make Ryan happy and use this GIF: https://media.giphy.com/media/HiHIvxBXWCOgV9lhAY/giphy.gif