07 November 2008

I got on the wrong ship

Being new to blogs and a selective perfectionist, I tried to learn how blogs were 'supposed' to be. I was told that people don't want to read too much text, want pretty pictures, etc. What I realize now is that a blog is simply a reflection of the person who writes it, so I should have stuck to my guns. What I wanted to write was a daily serendipity berry report: having a public blog made me accountable, and if I said I was going to be a serendipity berry, trying to sweeten someone's sorrow in some small way each day, then I would really have to make that happen. So, out with the fluffy stuff and in with the challenge.

I once tried to count how many people I was happy I'd met in life. I came up with the number two hundred. I said then that I would try to have at least one positive interaction per day, and it could be as small as exchanging smiles with a passing stranger. And not some flimsy, polite smile, but a real Duchenne smile. I figured I wanted to live to be a hundred years old, and if I could be happy about meeting at least one human being per day, I would die feeling I'd encountered tens of thousands of nice human beings. (I know: quantity vs. quality, but they aren't mutually exclusive, so in this case, you can have it all.)

So, after veering away from what I felt was my natural path, I'm returning to it now, and my goal is to offer little 'serendipity berry' anecdotes of sharing sweetness (usually a rewarding two-way street). I've decided what I find most beautiful in this world is when someone shares their vulnerability with me. That is the ultimate gift: to share of yourself. So, here are three little stories:

1. One of my students seemed like the 'quiet one' among his friends, who were all varsity athletes. I was surprised to discover that this economics concentrator (Harvard speak for major) was really into fantasy fiction, and when I showed an interest in learning what made great fantasy for the purpose of potentially writing a fantasy novel myself, he lit up. It was almost like seeing a mummy throw off his wrappings and come to colorful, animated life. He shared some of his thoughts, gave me a list of what to look for and even lent me two of his favorite books. I knew I had to take good care of them because there was not one crease in the spine, not one wrinkle on the cover or pages, and I felt like I had been admitted into a special club by his sharing what must be a prized possession with me. I've read that 'great conversation' often means simply listening, and what a gift it was to hear someone talk about what they were passionate about. Educational, too.

2. I have a girlfriend from my days in Los Angeles who became very successful. I don't watch television, so I didn't even know she had become a celebrity. I had a brief encounter with fame, and I hated it. People who never acknowledged my existence were my suddenly new best friends, and I was lonelier than I had ever been. It was a wake-up call to how dear my real friends were, and I hope that my now superstar friend has real strong love and support in her life. We had been classmates, and we always liked each other, but we were by no means best friends or anything, so I felt a little silly reaching out to her again. It was my own insecurity that made me feel she might wonder if I wanted something, if I, too, was just trying to be a 'suddenly new best friend.' I looked within myself and did an honest assessment, and yes, she did look a little cooler now that she was this big public figure, BUT I loved her more because of who she had been as a classmate. Supportive, hilarious, talented, and most of all, kind. Had I not already appreciated her personality, I would not have wanted to contact her. My own ego appeased, I emailed her and congratulated her on her success, and I'm guessing I was three or four years behind when she really became successful. She wrote back, remembered I had been working on a novel (I'm embarrassed that I let her read that early draft of it -- eek! screams the ego, who believes I am a much better writer now and wants to go on and on about how those early drafts were just practice, blah blah blah, but then I remember to shut my noisy little ego up and return to her) and was the same woman I remembered loving back when we were all struggling together. So, I probably don't have much to offer her, but I will try to be a true friend who likes her for who she is without the bright lights and fancy makeup and wardrobe, and I'm guessing that will be nice and refreshing.

3. I spent an afternoon having tea, carrot cake and a long chat with a new girlfriend whose father had passed away a few months ago. I am well-versed in sticking my foot in my mouth, and somehow, her father kept coming up. We were in a little cafe, so I knew it wasn't the place for her to let it all out, but I wanted to make things better, take that sorrow away from her and absorb some of the shock. It was clear that there was so much pain and heartache, and I wanted to wrestle it away from her, but I also thought it wouldn't be very respectful to do that if she wasn't ready. But are we ever ready? How does one best help and support a friend who has sustained a huge, seemingly insurmountable loss? Again, her vulnerability and openness made it hard-- no, impossible-- not to love her, to want to make everything better for her and hug her sorrows away. So, I think it would be trite to send something like this and hope it fixes everything-- but I want to help! I want this beautifully kind human being to stop suffering, and while she looks especially lovely when she tears up, I don't ever want to see her this heartbroken again. I guess it will simply take time, and all I can do now is try to make more tea dates with her, letting her take conversation where she is comfortable and hugging her and loving her and supporting her as well as I can.

1 comment:

  1. I hate rules. I didn't even realize their were any rules for blogs. Be you. Be genuine. Blogs are more interesting when they are written for the blog owner and not for blog readers;)