It’s me, Jeff. “Who?” Right, I get the joke. I mean, we don’t talk much, except when I’m on an airplane, and even though it’s only when I’m taking off or landing. And our conversations are limited to “Please get me to Vegas and back home safely to my wife and children afterwards.” Pretty simple stuff, in the overall scheme of things.
But this is different. I’m beginning to truly doubt your existence. Sure, my conservative friends are going to flip, but hear me out. See, God, if you truly exist, you gave me ambition, theoretically. Right? Right. And you know my ambition can get a little unruly at times; at times, I think I can do anything. And more often than not, it hasn’t been a real problem. You know all that. If you exist.
Until now. You know, if you exist, that that ambition drove me to buy a piece of property in a hot Denver neighborhood, design a duplex for that piece of property, and hire all the people to build said duplex. You know that it took a bit longer than it was supposed to and you know that it cost much more than I thought it would. Because while you gave me ambition, you also gave me ability….that doesn’t quite match my ambition. You know all that. If you exist.
And you know that our country is in a deep recession and that banks aren’t lending and that appraisers have new rules that limit what they can do and that there are very few buyers for a building such as mine: Modern, with high end finishes and luxury items, such as elevators and a ridiculous view of downtown. And you know that I’m making a monthly interest payment and that the prices are coming down and that I’m going to take a bath on this project, financially. But you know all that. If you exist.
So what gives? Why me? Why now? I’m a decent guy; I’m committed to my family and my friends, and I try to do the right thing all of the time, because that seems to be the right way to live. I’ve never been arrested, and I generally try to help people around me when they need it. I volunteer at my children’s school as often as any parent, I teach drama club to kindergartners, I coach soccer, I coach T-Ball, I’m working hard to make sure my kids are good citizens of the world, I teach them right from wrong and empathy for their fellow human beings… But you know all that. If you exist.
So what the hell is this about, pardon my language? Is this about my Vegas trips? You understand that those are good for my soul, and you understand that I pose no danger on those Vegas trips, except to myself.
Is this about my misguided 20s? That might be where you have a point. Sure, I did a lot of stupid things in my 20s. I may have used some illicit substances now and then or every weekend, and I may have treated some people poorly. I may have.
But we’re past that, aren’t we? I mean, I no longer use such substances and I try to treat people well. Friends might even say I’m generous. And, truly, that was 20 years ago. Are people allowed to learn from their mistakes? Oh, wait, maybe that’s what this is about. Am I supposed to learn from this? Is this a “teachable moment” in your vernacular? Well, God, if you exist, this is honestly a poor time for a “teachable moment.” My children are young and in need of full attention parenting and frankly, this situation almost makes it impossible to not be at least slightly distracted all the time. I mean, I try to make everything “normal” for them, but I wonder if I’m even capable of that. Because I’m in the midst of a “teachable moment.”
But hey, God, if you exist, if this is a “teachable moment,” so be it. I’ll live. I may be broke for the rest of my life, but I’ll live. And I have my friends and my kids and my beautiful wife, who, for some unfathomable reason, is hanging around to see this through. She talks about getting back to a “simpler life,” which is perhaps what this is all about. Maybe it is. Maybe it’s about living within your means and loving what and who you have and keeping your ambition under wraps. If I can get back there, God, I can live like that. But at the moment, that feels like a long way away.
And it’s affecting me, God, if you exist. It’s affecting my lifelong belief in treating people right and always going through the checklist in my head: “Is this the right thing to do?” Lately, I’ve put the checklist down in the garbage bin of my head and left it there. I mean, I haven’t done anything bad, per se, but I haven’t exactly gone out of my way to help old ladies cross the street. And you know, God, if you exist, that normally I would do such a thing. Without fail.
So maybe if I could get a morsel, a nougat of something good, I could continue to believe that you probably exist. Maybe you could throw me a couple of buyers, say “we were just kidding, Jeff, here are people with money who like what you’ve done,” I won’t feel like this has been a gigantic waste of time, money, and energy. And I’d quite possibly believe again. In right and wrong, in treating people well, and in you.