From time to time  I find the interactions of life sufficient material for deep thoughtful meditation and reflection. So it was last night when I found myself trying to peacefully read while drinking iced tea and munching on mozzarella sticks while sitting at one of the sports bars near where I work and live, and found myself distracted by the two people sitting close to me. At first it was a single woman who seemed to be talking on the phone with a date, and she was quiet enough that I was able to read for a few minutes while eating with a great deal of peace and quiet. Had it remained that way there would have been nothing to write about, I suppose. It is too boring of a task even for me to write at length about reading books while eating when there is little or no interaction with those around me, as it is a frequent experience and not a particularly interesting one, I must admit.
When the gentleman arrived that the lady was talking to, the conversation got considerably more interesting. I could tell from my at least competent gaydar that the fellow was clearly interested in gentlemen, and he had a ring on his finger and spoke at least once about how he had met and charmed the family of his partner. From the two of them it was possible to gather a great deal of information about them–they seemed inclined to talk about themselves far more than ask about me–such as the fact that both worked for a local hotel chain, both hated the new uniforms and their color and style, and both had experience in the past with bartending and adult entertainment. The gentleman had been a male stripper during his teenage years, and the woman, who was my age and a single mother of four daughters, had been the only one of her circle of friends not accepted for work at a local strip club during her late teenage years. About the only interest they had in me was to ask what I was reading–I showed them the two books and once they found out I was a philosophical Christian, they had little more to ask. I did not feel it was polite to inform them, especially the man, that the author of the larger book I was working my way through was in favor of the establishment of biblical punishments for various types of sin, as I thought that would be unnecessarily hostile.
I am unusual sort of barfly. It sit at a bartop and eat and drink tea and read. I require little attention beyond the initial order and its fulfillment and interact pleasantly but unobtrusively with those around me. The people who I was interacting with, though, were definitely the sort of people that a bar prefers. The people I was with were not shy at all when it came to drinking. There was a bit of beer to start out with, and then out came the shots, including two shots of some green drink that contained 151 and some other drinks. I was a bit concerned for their safety by the time they finished putting down drink after drink and spending a great deal of their hard-earned money, during which they filled the air with complaints about not having any money or being able to discipline their various habits. The lady’s habits were certainly easy to understand–she had ceased having a debit card because felt she could not control her purchases of books and clothing. The gentleman, on the other hand, had far more unpleasant and uncontrollable desires, including one for a particular redhead that he met during a prior Navy week for whom he described rather explicit desires. It was rather uncomfortable to hear such matters.
I wondered what it was that separated these people from me. For the most part, I share their concerns and complaints about life and loneliness and the feeling of oppression in this world. Yet I do not consider myself to be a person who spends life in a haze of dissipation. As unpleasant as life can be, my sense of restraint and self-control is something that can be relied upon. If life can seldom be fully enjoyed, at least it can be endured most of the time. Most of us find ourselves with longings that life simply does not fulfill, some of which ought not to be fulfilled, and we have to deal with such matters as best as we can. The absence of a moral standard outside of our own desires, and the fact that the world does not generally do a very good job at catering to our wishes and longings, tends to make our contemporary age a deeply unhappy one. Without a sense of duty and a sense of obedience to a higher will than our own, it is immensely difficult to live any sort of decent life. We could all stand to do a better job at recognizing our need to be cleansed within and the fact that we can best deal with life when we are able to look it bravely in the face and handle it soberly. Of course, most people are content with temporary escape and unwilling to face into the darkness and corruption of their own longings and desires. One does not go the bar, after all, for self-examination, only for encouragement and justification. Perhaps I am not the best company for such things.
 See, for example: