A friend who lives overseas wrote the following earlier today: “I’m really suffering, and I feel really alone and broken. The closest people to me have all betrayed me in the last days. Go figure. The truth is that this world is not good, and people are afraid of the things they truly crave. I try so hard to be so good and give to so many, but receive so little of that care or kindness or closeness in return. And it hurts the most when it’s on a day like today, on Christmas. Yes, I know, just a random holiday but still.”

HE response #1: “If we were sitting in a cafe somewhere and you said ‘the closest people to me have all betrayed me in the last days,’ I would naturally say ‘whaddaya mean…betrayed you how?’ I’m presuming that at least one of these betrayals had to do with a woman hurting your feelings. Well, you don’t need me to tell you that this is sadly and eternally par for the course. Ask Frank Sinatra. Lovers ignore, pull back, occasionally bruise, cause hurt, sometimes even draw blood. Obviously not all the time but often enough for what I’ve just written to be a cliche. Quelle surprise!”

HE response #2: “What can I tell you? People mainly look after themselves. I don’t think that rule of existence is going to change any time soon. My grandparents used to have a green candy-serving bowl in their living room, and I distinctly recall chuckling as a nine or ten year-old at the slogan painted upon it: ‘People are no are no damn good.’ Ever since I’ve been measuring human behavior against this somber assessment, and my considered opinion today is that more than a few people (especially those blessed with good genes and decent educations and non-traumatic upbringings) are actually quite ‘good’ as far as kindly, considerate behavior goes.

“But you’ll never find a center of happiness if you’re looking for others to do it for you — to offer love and respect and care for you in the right ways — to provide that balm, those hugs, that emotional support system that we all want and need. That was probably what my grandparents were irked about, and they had several friends and a large extended family to hang out with from time to time. Friends and lovers are blessings but not solutions, and they never will be. Take yourself off that treadmill, get shut of it. Here comes another cliche: ‘Happiness and sadness are illusions — opposite sides of the same coin.’ We’re all part of a single, spherical, immaculate universe of chance and destiny. Buy a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, listen to Van Morrison on vinyl, sail into the mystic.”

HE response #3: “Or get hold of the Bluray of Brian Desmond Hurt‘s A Christmas Carol.”