R and I just got back from spending the evening out with our friend, Phil. I always find talking to him and spending time in his presence to be both interesting and inspirational in a sense.
Phil is not far from 70 years old. He fought in Korea and volunteered for Vietnam. He was later involved in anti-war work. He's been a lawyer, an artist, and a number of other things, I'm sure. He's also been HIV+ for more than 20 years now. I know from talking to him that he's had about as many horrid or life-wrenching events happen as any three or four people. All of that being said, he's one of the most positive and joyous people that I've ever met in my life. He's got the best attitude I've ever seen and he's genuinely warm, compassionate and forgiving.
With all that he's been through or seen, many people would have crumpled and I'm sure that Despair is an old friend that he's learned to welcome on occasion but...he's just an amazing guy. He's also a great example that you don't have to make yourself a relic sitting in a rocking chair as you age. You can learn new things, create, drive projects on many fronts, have lovers, and generally LIVE even when you're older and even living with a disease that could kill you soon and drive you to giving up.
He's a wonderful dinner table companion and I had a great time speaking to him and R tonight. He's one of those rare people that isn't out of my normal social circle of pagan malcontents or geeks but whom I can discuss philosophy or life with clearly and know that I'm being understood. Hell, he has many insights that I don't hear from others and I don't often get to just talk to people without having to be self-conscious about topic matter or mode of discourse. My interests or directions are obscure or odd enough that R is one of the few people that I can really talk to about what I'm thinking. Phil, I think, is likely to be one of the others over time.
I've been fortunate to meet him through R. She's worked with him as a volunteer for years and became friends with him in that same context. If she and I weren't together, I never would have met him and it would have been a loss.
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