I didn’t anticipate the reaction to yesterday’s post, On Being Sick, that I received. While I was writing it I wasn’t really thinking. It was just something I had to get out of my body. It was like a sneeze. It was like, I need expel this thing.
After I put it up, messages started coming in from friends hither and yon. Instant messages, emails, texts, Facebook comments, and Twitter DMs. The response reminded me of many things, but what first came to mind was something David Martel told me when I was interviewing him for an Hour cover story in 2008. From that article:
Martel says that if there’s a message on the record, it’s “I’m hurting, and you probably are too, but it’ll be okay.”
This, in turn, reminded me of what Dave Eggers wrote, epigrammatically, in AHWOSG:
I am tired. I am true of heart! And also: You are tired. You are true of heart!
Anyway. I was bolstered, humbled and strengthened by people’s words. It never ceases to amaze me how simple life is sometimes: I wrote a thing; people responded positively and lovingly to a thing; I wanted to go be positive and loving to other people.
It ain’t so hard. You know?
And yet of course it is. Life’s hard; it’s tough. “The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,” and all the rest conspire against us daily. Those things push us down, force us into half-nelsons made of nastiness: envy, self-doubt, self-pity, solipsistic self-involvement, and whatever else.
I’m no better. I find myself lost in such places regularly. I doubt myself; I doubt my ability to deal, and heal. I doubt the love of my friends and family, and the extent to which anything I do makes anything better anywhere.
“Thus conscience makes cowards of us all.” I guess.
(There’s a reason I wrote this in the way that I did, with the quotations from Hamlet and the relative downerism. It’s going to come back up. I promise. This is much more thought out than yesterday’s post.)
See, I can look at myself and see all this stuff, just like you can (and maybe do). But it’s not all I see. In me or in you. And I think that’s a big, important point. It’s not all. It’s not even close to all.
I was having coffee this morning with my cousin. Truth told, we’re not close, but I think that was the result of a significant age difference (sorry, Jack) and the fact that we didn’t live in the same place for a long time. (I’ve always wanted us to be close, however. Maybe today was the start of that.) Anyway, we were having coffee and chatting about work stuff, about how I’m looking for new opportunities in/around communications, marketing, education, etc.
As such, we got into a few discussions. This and that. Education, work, jobs, love life, etc. It dawned on me that I swear a lot and, moreover, that my cousin doesn’t. I also noticed her laughing at a lot of the things I was saying. So then I tried to make her laugh. We’d be talking about something serious, and I’d make sure to get a zinger or a punchline in there. It didn’t matter if it was a big laugh or a small laugh, I was just trying to get her to laugh. That became the point.
My cousin has one of the all-time great laughs; she laughs with the whole top of her body. Her face goes first (eyes crinkle, then the rest), and then she folds forward and slightly inward at the shoulders. She laughs the way you do when it’s as much a punctuation of a moment as anything else; it’s the period, the break in the action. It’s quite a thing to see. She looks like she’s in pain for a split second and then it breaks and you’re like, “Oh, okay, you’re not dying.”
Anyway, my point is that as soon as I realized that all I was trying to do was make her laugh, the morning fell into place. I stopped thinking about how I’m looking for a new job, about how things on the job front have been really slow and frustrating lately, and about money in general. For about 45 minutes, it was about making someone laugh, and it was pretty awesome.
Regardless of how frustrated or lost I get, as long as I know that I probably get as much out of making someone laugh as they get from actually laughing, I’mma be okay.
Happy weekend, everyone. I hope you all do awesome stuff.
And, if at all possible, make someone laugh. It’ll be well worth it.
This is the seventh post in my #30posts challenge. Don’t know what that is? Read this.