1. The Burden of Worry
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The Burden of Worry

Once upon a time there was a very lonely man.
The lonely man had many friends
But none of them would sleep with him.
His friends gave many different reasons:
    I only sleep with my lover.
    I think we'll regret it.
    I have to do my laundry.
    I'm not in love with you.
    You're too old.
But the man did not believe the reasons.
    Why should sex only be for one lover?
    Why would we regret it?
    You went out with someone else.
    I'm not in love with you either.
    What does age matter?
The man was filled with worry
That there was something wrong with him.
His friends slept with each other
But never slept with him.
One day the man met a prostitute.
The man was afraid to buy sex.
It felt wrong to him.
He wanted sex with friends,
Where it was about being close
Not paying rent.
But the prostitute surprised him.
    Come sit with me.
    You don't have to pay anything.
    Just cuddle for a while
    And see how you feel.
This made the man feel very good
About the prostitute
And very bad about his friends:
    Why will this man turn away business
    And do for me
    What people I know
    Will not do for a needing friend?
The lonely man felt angry at his friends
For a very long time.
After many years of worry:
    Is it me?
    Is it them?
    Is sex so terrifying?
    Am I so terrifying?
    Why wont they sleep with me?
    Why am I so lonely?
The man met a strong and truthful young man
And fell in love.
With much worry, the lonely man professed his love.
The truthful young man said:
    I am not very experienced.
    Ideally I sleep only with my true love.
    I do not think I am in love with you.
    I am afraid if I sleep with you
        that you'll become too attached to me.
    But you need to see that you
        need not worry.
    I will risk it.
    I will sleep with you.
The lonely man
And the truthful young man
Slept together several times.
The lonely man worked hard
At being himself more often
And conquering his worries.
He also paid attention to
Putting limits on his attachment.
The lonely man became
A not so lonely man.
One day the truthful young man
Told the not so lonely man:
    It is time for me to find true love.
    I will still be your friend.
    But I must stop sleeping with you.
The not so lonely man
Realized that he had been pretending
That the truthful young man was his lover.
And he knew it was indeed time for
The truthful young man to stop sleeping with him.
The not so lonely man
Shed many tears
Because he was still afraid
Of being alone
And of the perils of
His own search for true love.
The two men promised
To be there for each other
When one or the other
Would come home bruised from the workday
Or a misstep in the quest for joy and love.
The not so lonely man
Praised the truthful man
And told him what he'd learned:
    There are many kinds of friends.
    There are many kinds of needs.
    When we're filled fear and worry
    We are led to do wrong deeds.
    I'm still a little angry
    At my other so-called friends.
    But now that I can be myself
    Perhaps we'll make amends.
    I feel like I am stronger
    Having faced so much I fear.
    Thank you for your love and help.
    I worry less this year.
And so with the burdens
Of worry and loneliness lightened,
The man felt able to resume his
Quest for joy and love
So long ago interrupted.
What did he find?
That is another story.

15 December 2000

by Bill Cattey