When speaking to anyone, you must assume one of two things: the first is that their mother is dying, and the second is that they just made hot love.
When you assume these things, you will notice that is impossible to complain. I think we are being violent to our friends when we complain about anything to them, and even more so when we choose to be negative to those with whom we are less familiar.
Before you speak to your friends, consider the idea that their mother is dying.
Entertain this thought. Try to imagine what is living in their heart. Try to imagine tying your shoes in the morning, and losing the bunny knot, and erupting, because your mother, your mom, the one that taught you how to eat with a spoon, is not going to be around much longer. And you’ve known this for a while. It makes tying the bunny knot feel like an impossible task.
But you must tie your shoes, and make your coffee, and catch the bus, and go. So you push. And soon you receive a text saying:
“ugh, forgot my fucking lunch at home. kill me”
You bite your tongue. They don’t know, you think, don’t say anything. So you respond:
Such a fleeting, everyday, offhand and hyperbolized and unimportant comment. You know this, and yet somehow you feel worse. Your mother is dying, and kill me sticks to the gray tar lingering on your mind.
When you consider this, you will no longer want to yell at your friends. You will no longer want to complain about your exams, the traffic, the rain, the money on your credit card. You will likely not want to talk at all. You will see the weight they carry and try your best not to add to it.
What I’ve learned is that, no matter what, someone’s mother is dying, and most of the time they won’t tell you.
So you must assume.
You must also assume, in the fortunate event that their mother is in good shape, that your friend just made hot love. Today, he is quite jubilant, and is likely having one of those glowing, hopscotch, blue jay kind of mornings. Smiles and quick steps and holding doors.
You notice their bright yellow mood and squint your eyes through a mix of envy and disdain. How dare you prance about? My car broke down this morning, you sick fuck.
Like with a dying mother, this sick fuck is likely not going to tell you that he just got mega laid, either.
So you must assume.
And when you do this, you will again notice that the last thing that sick fuck wants to hear about is your shitty car battery. This is because his endorphins are raging through the roof on account of all the sweet, savory, sexy, sex he did this morning.
Soon, on account of all the complaining you haven’t been doing, you yourself will begin to notice the blue jays, the rain, the money on your credit card, your aging mother. You will see that you are desperately not unique in the face of a dying car battery. You will see that violence and death are indiscriminate, that traffic is an orgy, that you are now the one giving the exams.
You will see that all this, too, will happen to you (even the hot love).
And so, quite frankly, you shut the fuck up, make your coffee, and go.