I have written several posts about football, life, and politics in the past couple of weeks. I have worked on them for hours, only to delete them before sharing them. I have written a letter that I rewrote several times, decided not to send several times, before it was taken out of my hands and delivered to the person I wrote it to. I just don’t feel confident about my writing right now.
I was just in a meeting with several women who have all lost someone close to them rather recently. I sat there worried about a hurricane that is hitting Puerto Rico and my newly discovered family as I munched on a turkey sandwich and I lost my almost nonexistent appetite as I fretted.
I have thought about what to write, what to do next for a couple of weeks. I feel sad that I haven’t written anything lately, but I am not sure what to say. And then someone told me that they had a loved one who felt like I do and that they had shared my last blog post to try to help that person. And I remembered why I blogged to begin with. To share my story in hopes that someone could relate, that either I would feel less alone or someone reading might feel less alone.
The women in this meeting were there to help others, to try to start a new way for people to connect at times at sorrow and grief. In the meeting I shared a story that my son Jon shared with me as we rode home from Atlanta this past weekend.
Jon was asked to go to attend a meeting in Atlanta for his boss several years ago while his boss was on maternity leave. Jon admitted in the meeting that this was not his usual area of expertise, that he was there to gather information and take it back to his supervisor. The people in the meeting were nice and helpful and Jon enjoyed his time with the new people he met.
After he returned home, a few days later, he received a small package in the mail with a hand written letter and a small book. The letter was from one of the higher ups he had met at corporate in Atlanta telling him how much he had enjoyed meeting Jon and the book was more information on the subject that Jon had professed to lack experience in. Jon still has the book and the letter.
Our conversation turned to connections and the loss of personal connections in this day and age. Yes, social media gives us ways to stay in contact with people that we would have lost in the past, but it also means we rely on those types of communication instead of real conversations and letters. As a young person, my son realized the value in the time and attention it had taken for this man to write a handwritten letter and it meant a lot to Jon.
On the anniversary of my mom’s death, I received a letter from a friend I made when I went back to college. My friend has moved away and is pursuing a career that carries him all over the world. When I saw the envelope and his return address, I assumed it was a belated birthday card or an invitation to something. A handwritten envelope is rare in the mail these days.
When I opened up the envelope I saw all sides of the card covered in my friend’s handwriting. Before reading a word I felt a sense of dread. For a young man to write a long letter to me must be bad news. Was he mad at me, had I done something? Was he losing his job? Was he divorcing his husband? My mind went all over the place.
As it turned out, it was a lovely letter, something my friend had decided to start doing more of in an effort to stay connected while so far from home and the ones he loves. It was a long, honest portrayal of what he was going through and what was going on his life. It was exactly what I needed on that emotional day.
I immediately sat down and wrote him an equally long response.
I gave up writing because I don’t know what to say to change the world. I quit saying anything because everything I say can (and has been) taken the wrong way by someone. I have felt lost and sad because I am not changing the world in the midst of the world needing to change.
Maybe what I need to do is just keep writing. When I think it is too frivolous or silly of a subject, maybe one person needs a little frivolous and silly in their lives. When I feel lost, maybe one person needs to know they are not the only one who is lost. When I feel my heart breaking, maybe I need to just admit that, so that someone else who’s heart is breaking can relate.
I have to quit thinking it is my responsibility to save the world. Saving the world is not my job. That job has been handled. I can only be who I am and hope that someone out there gets something out of what I write, whether it be a sympathy card, a funny story, a note of encouragement or a rant about the people in power with funny hairdos.
And I guess if you have comments or find fault with my thoughts, go for it. An older church member told me once when I agreed to preside over a church group, that if someone didn’t get angry with me regularly, I probably wasn’t getting anything done. Although I don’t want to develop tough skin, I will try to take each comment with a spirit of sharing and dialogue.