In what feels like another lifetime ago, I was walking with an old friend back to the train. It was ass-hot outside, not normal for that time of year on the coast, and my legs were sticking together uncomfortably with each step I took; the blister on my foot threatening to pop if a squirrel so much farted near it.
“I don’t buy it,” he said, blithely as he kicked at a rock in our path.
“No?” I returned, twisting a leaf between my fingers. “I do.”
“No, I don’t think so,” he rebutted. “I’m fairly jaded.”
“I could have been,” I said, absently brushing a falling leaf off my shoulder, relieved it wasn’t a creepy bug trying to lay it’s creepy bug eggs in my ear. “But I’m not.”
We walked on in silence for a few moments – the comfortable sort of silence two people have when they know each other intimately enough to finish the other’s sentence; never rushing to fill a chasm of uncomfortable silence, because between the two of us, there never were such things. As I turned this piece of information – an answer I wouldn’t have expected from him – over in my mind, like I was examining a three-dimensional cube or a particularly exciting riddle, I realized I needed to understand his logic – we’d had similar childhoods, our lives veered off in our twenties, and were now in similar positions in our lives.
“So you’re saying that you don’t believe in the goodness of others?” I pried harder, determined to understand this betwixting bit of information.
“Not exactly,” he responded. “I believe that most people are in it for themselves.”
I mulled it over.
“How do you explain something like Band Back Together?” I asked. “There’s a perfect example – we have a pool of volunteers who work UNPAID to make the site a safe haven for anyone who needs it. And the readers? I’ve never, with the exception of my own personal blog, seen such a tight-knit and supportive community online.”
He thought about it.
“That makes sense,” he said, somewhat begrudgingly, as I sneezed three times from some nearby plant that was probably trying to take root in my nasal passages. “Bless you,” he continued.
“Thanks,” I replied stuffily. “Damn allergies.”
We walked on in silence, only interrupted by the rhythmic clacking of our footfalls against the sidewalk.
Finally, he spoke. “I’m going to try to live my life your way,” he informed me. “The way I’ve been living hasn’t gotten me very far – I need a new outlook.”
I stopped, forcing him, who was, despite the length difference in our legs, keeping stride with me, to stop too. I beamed at him before jumping up on top of him to give him a gigantic bear hug.
“You’ll see,” I said, beaming. “You’ll see.”
I was reminded of this conversation yesterday, after I wrote about my current changing circumstances. I don’t ask for help well, and I don’t do it often, because it makes me feel weak and needy. But I know that sometimes, the most important thing we can do is to be brave enough to admit when things just aren’t working; that I am struggling and not sure where to go next.
And while I was terrified to hit publish, because I know that asking for help on the Internet is rife with peril – not only am I showing you my vulnerability, I know that I’ve now opened myself up for greater and greater criticism. Much as I can pretend the nay-sayers don’t hurt in such a situation, they do. When I added the paypal donate button (under duress), I was equally terrified. The last thing I want to do is to be seen as someone who wants hand-outs.
But I’ve been overwhelmed; this time it’s in a positive manner. Your kindness is overwhelming.
Pranksters, you are my family. Like it or not, you’re a part of my family. And what you have done for me is nothing short of a miracle. I’m currently crying – not out of sadness, but out of happiness, because while even after I’ve hit rock bottom, the kindness of others is astounding. I’m taking ALL your advice, will be responding to your wonderful comments, and forming a gignormous Google document so that I can carefully plan out the rest of my life (or the immediate future – I don’t think “Marry Anthony Bourdain” will actually happen, so why set myself up for failure?).
From the bottom of my heart – thank you.
And once again, I’m reminded that the same light that shines upon me, shines also upon you. That we are all connected, we are none of us alone.
None of us.
Which is why I’m leaving you with this awesome photo (note liberal usage of soft-core porn lens):