Two men meet. They become good friends. Both working towards a Master’s degree, they share a common goal of going on to get a PhD. At the time, it’s a pipe dream, but it’s one that bonds them in solidarity. They are also share the challenge of having a felony background. Both are determined to get beyond this, to strive toward redemption, to attain their degree and be called “Doctor.” The years pass.
The challenges come, and they go. Seems for every step forward, their checkered past sets them two steps back. But still, they persist, each in his own way, toward their goals. They support each other, encourage each other, lift the other up when despair weighs him down. The friendship strengthens.
Then one finishes, leaps forward in a moment of glory, hooded at last. He is no longer “mister,” he is now “doctor.” A proud moment shared between friends. Achievement for one, encouragement for the other. Perhaps it IS possible to overcome after all.
Tragedy strikes. One is cast out, set back not just two steps, but ten years. In one inglorious meeting he is dismissed, disgraced, and discarded. Clearly, not all sins are equal. He hangs his head. Perhaps this time it is too much. Perhaps now is the time to quit.
The successful one realizes his dream and then some. Accolades, offers, engagements—everything he’d worked for and more. He offers his encouragement to the fallen one, at last realizing that some mountains are more difficult to climb than others. The bonds of friendship strain, but they do not break.
Anger overtakes the fallen one. Angry that he cannot attain the same level of success as his friend, and angry that his friend has attained such success. And angry at himself for his selfish anger toward his friend. What right does HE have to be successful? What right do I have to be angry? Jealousy is such an ugly color. I do not wear it well.
Two friends drift apart, both reaching out to cling to the tatters of a dream, of a goal, of the idea that they would both overcome. Life propels them both on, the maelstrom of daily reality consuming each. Still, the bonds of friendship hold, perhaps tenuously, but nonetheless they hold.
I am ashamed of my selfish anger. My friend will never truly know how proud I am of his success, how happy I am the he achieved his goal, how much I would like to be just like him. The anger will pass as the shifted paradigm settles. When it does, the love, the bond, the friendship will be as strong…no, STRONGER than it was before.