Writer, Director, Dog Kisser, Vagabonder. www.thedudeguy.com www.imdb.me/mattjackson
Today is my best mate’s birthday. Frequently I call him “Matthew” as his Jewish mother does. You know him as Matty K. We’ve known each other since we were six years old. Kindergarten. Wow. We’ve been Ghostbusters together and knowledge bowl nerds together, but our deepest connection took root during my first major breakup. He was the only guy who really got what I was experiencing, and it bonded us. We spent this past weekend celebrating his birthday in Denver in a fairly low-key get-down which is usually unlike us. Late in the evening of day one of his birthday festivities there are usually soft batch cookies and fireball being distributed all over the hotel room. Okay, maybe only figuratively…but the soft batch rain shower may or may not have really happened once upon a time.
This year was different because of something that defines Matthew- his generosity. The size of his heart and the way he sees people are things that I’m catching up with in my own experience. He’s always been a giant I look up to in those areas. Because of my vagabonding excursion from L.A. and steadfast sobriety, Matthew changed his birthday plans from a rather idyllic ski trip in a remote location to a simple partaaay in the Dtown. All because he wanted me there.
Matthew and a mutual friend of ours were the first people I texted from the gym the day I decided to stop drinking. I asked them to check in frequently in the early days of my decision to make sure I was staying the course. The outpour of love, support, and generosity with his time and attention to my decision was overwhelming. Still is. The accountability phase has past, but he’s still always sensitive to my trajectory and growth, and while never at his own detriment (also one of his strengths- how he strikes such balance continues to elude me) he is willing to be flexible with any and all plans even if it means completely changing course.
I have been the beneficiary of the many means of support from a myriad of friends and family, but I’ll speak only to Matthew’s role. I really wouldn’t be in L.A. doing what I’m doing without him. There have been times over the past many years that he carried me through some significant rough patches. He’s without a doubt the number one cheerleader of my artistic pursuits, and it’s been his influence that brought me to this very moment of writing, creating, and living with intention.
As in every western or hero movie we occasionally have fights or tiffs, but that’s what brothers do. There’s always more understanding in the end. Our life paths, however, nearly came to a divergent moment in the not-so-distant past only I didn’t know it until it had faded away into a memory. Matthew’s personal growth has been more swift and impactful on his trajectory than mine previously was. I was solidly in a state of self-loathing and unable to see the forest for the trees for most of his rocket journey up (reference to his magnificent career intended.) As he grew and kept pulling me up, I continued to stuff my wet pockets full of anger rocks that would bog me down into the sea, making me heavier and heavier and harder to hold onto.
And instead of allowing me to keep him down in the atmosphere, Matthew did the most generous and difficult thing he could:
He let go.
Not completely of course, but he chose to let me sink for a time, and every now and then he would grab me by the lapels and lift me to the surface before letting me back down into the dark pool of my brain grapes. Slowly…ever so slowly in the bobbing up and down I started to see, as I mentioned early in my “stories,” the glistening light at the surface. It had come time for me to swim my own self up, breathe in the air, and pull my ragged bones to shore. When I stood up, he was there, sparkling water in hand, with a “See, I told you that you could do it” look on his face.
The debt I owe him includes, and is not limited to, gratitude. For Christmas this year, he gave me the book that was the catalyst for the massive shift in mind that has inspired so much of what’s about to come. It CHANGED MY LIFE, and he knew I was ready for it. In some ways Matthew actually knows me better than I do, and it’s 100% certain that he believes in me more than I do. Thankfully, and thanks to him, I’m starting to catch up to him in that respect, too.
Happy Birthday, Matthew. Here’s to 31 more years of “Yeah, we’re both named Matt.”
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