When my wife and I first started dating, many of our initial dates consisted of walking and talking. The walking part? Well, she lived down in “Yesteryear” (my pet name for the historic district of Fernandina Beach, FL). The talking? We had both been in relationships that left more emotional bruises and scars than magical memories. The magic here was that both of us not only talked, we listened and listened intently.

It seemed that the more we learned, the more we wanted to know. Hence, the walking, the talking, and the listening continued. Finally, while sitting on her front steps one night, I confided what I wanted most in a relationship (it was evident by that point that, like it or not, we were in one).

I told her that I wanted to share life with a person who was absolutely accepting of me being me. Deep in my heart, I longed to tell someone my deepest, darkest secrets, my wildest imaginations, and my most courageous dreams. And, I wanted a person who felt comfortable and safe enough to share their most private thoughts and passionate goals with me in return.

The bottom line is, I enjoy being me. It’s fun! And, I wanted to be accepted for who I was… period. I also wanted to share life with a person who impulsively exposed themselves to me, unfiltered, in return, knowing that every last part of who they are would be wholly accepted and cherished. For me, that’s love.

To this day (4+ yrs and counting) the walks continue, as does the listening. It’s served us well and freed up a lot of closet space that was previously inhabited with skeletons.

Judgmental by nature, we label others. We size them up, dress them down and figure them out. We form opinions based on perception. We’re not biased. On the contrary, we have a checklist of good, bad and scary reserved for just about anyone who crosses our path. Yet, we ourselves hunger for acceptance and long for that one soul who approves of us completely, without exception or reservation – a true friend.

* * * * * * *

It became one of my favorite shows a several years ago. Sadly, it concluded production after five all-too-short seasons. I started with the first season on DVD, and picked up a few broadcast episodes when I happened across them. The show mixes sarcastic humor with deadpan. It laces drama with absurdity. It unfolds within the confines of a law firm whose founder seems to have lost any morals he may have at one time harbored, as well as bits and pieces of his ability to reason.

William Shatner, James Spader, and Candice Bergen are big enough stars in their own presence, but the scripts afforded them are clever and tightly woven. The show is Boston Legal. And, while I’m attracted by the humor, the drama, and the absurdity, there’s another small staple to the show that hits home with more impact than waking up to find yourself “miles away” in a live version of a Corona commercial –  the closing segment on the balcony.

It’s not the location, although overlooking the city of Boston from seven stories up after sunset has to be a spectacular view. It’s not even the fact that it’s the wrap up of the day, although we all love getting to the end of our daily journey and being afforded the brief opportunity of a deep breath. It’s more the fact that it has become a symbol of complete acceptance in the presence of a friend, someone willing to entertain your most outlandish thought without so much as the hint of judgment.

We all need time on that balcony. We all have those thoughts deep within us that can’t be shared with just anyone. We’re not looking for someone to help us sort out those thoughts, resolve the inner issues, or put us back on the right path from which we’ve strayed. We’ve got friends for that. In fact, we probably have an abundance of friends ready to strap on that head gear and offer advice.

What we really long for at times is that person who, regardless the situation, listens intently and responds with a positive celebration of who we are. We need affirmation. We need someone that signs off on the confidential document that says it’s okay for us to feel what we’re feeling, think what we’re thinking, or dream the dream we’re dreaming. Nothing big. Nothing profound. Just mutual approval and acceptance of things as they are, no boundaries, no qualifications.

Light the cigar. Pour the scotch. Celebrate who you are in this moment of time, your strengths, your weaknesses and your you-niqueness. It’s okay for you to be you! Let’s meet on the balcony.

*  *  *  *  *

Time to let go of the old

All that cannot feed your soul

And make another choice

Write it down so you can learn

Everything you want to burn

And take back your own voice

There is dancing round the fire

We’re releasing old desires

The dreams we dream in vain

Flames are swallowing the dark

We are feeding every spark

With things that bring us pain

Glory, Glory… Hallelujah

Come and lay your burden down

                                           – Kate Phillips

Quick Links to Mark’s Books on Amazon:

Mark D. Combs
Don’t Forget Your Cape
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