‘No Man Is A Failure Who Has Friends’

by Bill Brenner on December 26, 2011

Part of the holiday tradition around here is a viewing of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” The ending used to make me sad, because it seemed to sum up what was missing in my life.

For a long time, I didn’t feel like I had any friends. It was nobody’s fault. I had crawled so far inside myself that I chose dozing off on the couch with the TV remote in my hand over going outside and dealing with people.

I was terrified of my own shadow and too absorbed in OCD-driven thoughts to reach out to real people outside the closest family.

The Christmas season always seemed to amplify the feeling that I was pretty much alone. I never was alone. But some days I felt like a ghost nobody noticed. Funny how even when you’re down on yourself, the freight-train ego takes over, making you wonder why nobody notices you.

But that’s what insanity does to you. You think all the shit that’s untrue is real and, in the process, you miss the very real beauty that’s right in front of your face.

But I’ve done a lot of mental healing in the last few years. I’ve written about it at length here — more than some folks think I should. But the facts are ironclad:

–I’m much better at living in the moment than I used to be.

–I’m not afraid of much these days. My still-new fearlessness gets me into trouble sometimes, but it beats hiding from life.

–Once I learned to get out of my own way, I realized that I do have a lot of friends; way more than I can count. That’s a big deal, because in my late teens I used to be so insecure about how many friends I had that I would try to count them all. They never went away. I did.

That last scene from “It’s A Wonderful Life” — where George Bailey finds a copy of “Tom Sawyer” from his guardian angel, Clarence, with a message inside the cover that says “No man is a failure who has friends” — is so true.

I have armies of friends from the different facets of my life — the hacker-security crowd, the metalhead crowd, the church community crowd — and they prop me up every day.

If my mood goes black and I fail to keep it to myself, friends come out of the woodwork and try to make me feel better. They always do.

Friends have stuck by me even when I’ve been the biggest of assholes.

Some friends have gotten angry as hell at me for various reasons. But they haven’t deserted me.

I thank them for that. And I thank everyone in my complicated but wonderful life.

Clarence was right. When friends are there to save you from your darker instincts, you simply cannot fail. Even if you deserve to.

Much love and thanks to all of you. I hope you had a Merry Christmas. We did.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe December 26, 2011 at 4:48 am

Really great holiday movie Bill. Nice post.

Eli November 24, 2012 at 10:44 am

Merry Christmas to you and your family my friend you can always count me among them! (your friends, that is;-)

Greg December 13, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Are you my friend, Mr. Scholarship winner?

tr3ss December 13, 2013 at 4:26 pm

I was just thinking about this today: how even when I’m clinging to rock bottom for dear life, I know my friends will never let me fall.

Beautifully put. Merry Christmas.

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