Only two types of people exist...Those who run towards a fire and those who run away from a fire. When you think about it you can judge for yourself which group you fit into. Friends who stay during the hardest times in your life and those who can't handle the truth and disappear.
As a society we are taught to run from trouble. Run from bad situations. Don't speak up or get involved. But it that really what we should be doing? Of course, I'm not saying you should interject yourself in dangerous situations. But if you run into someone who could be helped if you just opened your mouth and talked to them would you do it? Or would you keep walking? In college most of us were willing to be open, to talk to new people and hear new ideas. I bet if you think about it you can remember just such an encounter with maybe a person who changed your life and you may have never known that person's name. But somewhere along the way we teach ourselves to stop talking to strangers. To keep to ourselves.
I was once by myself in the medical center. It was 8 years ago. I was by myself and crying. Not just a little bit. Uncontrollably sobbing because I had just found out I tested positive for the cystic fibrosis gene. Jeremy was going to be tested but we'd have to wait weeks for the results and if he was positive too the doctor said he would not help me get pregnant. As a heart patient with a laundry list of issues dangerous for pregnancy this one little bit of info was just too much. I thought after that the doctor would not help us start our dream of having children. It was just too much and I couldn't keep it in. After all these years you'd think this wouldn't have been a breaking point for me. As I cried, trying to get to my car I was approached by a few people who chose to get involved. Who offered a shoulder for me to cry on. People who ran towards the fire. What a gift those people were to me that day. When I was alone, without my husband and no time to process what this new piece of information would mean.
I wrote to Miss Lena this week. My guardian angel who sat with me after open heart when I was alone and crying. She was in the ICU with her husband and came and sat with me as I cried, chest tube in my chest cavity and all. She held my hand and prayed with me. I write her all the time. Because she is a gift. Without pretense or prejudice, she took a strangers hand and prayed for me. She ran to the fire.
When I was 18, I was working on a thesis project for a class I was taking. We were supposed to find a problem we could solve. So I decided on using Music therapy to bring joy to residents in an elderly total care facility. One lady never spoke. Ever. I never heard her utter a word (neither had anyone who worked there.) But playing music on a piano for her made her come alive. She sang. A voice came from the corner or the room that I didn't recognize. I couldn't believe it. One simple thing, music brought joy and happiness to a group of forgotten people. It was life changing day for me. What we do (and don't do) matters.
At the same facility I met a boy. He was 18 years old and had been badly burned in a house fire in Mexico. He did not speak English and was living in a rehab facility/nursing home with all people over 65 years old. His limbs had been burned off and he was the happiest person, the most grateful person I've ever met. His name was Gabriel. I named my son after him. I only met him for a few minutes. But his joy and his truth radiated within me and stayed with me. So much so that I told Jeremy I must name a son after this boy. To always remember in the face of struggle you can rise from the ashes.
I was at a meeting last night where my doctor spoke to our WomenHeart support group. He was surprised to see a patient of his who met me because of an article I wrote. He remarked that through writing we are all connected even closer. Maybe 1 or 2 degrees of seperation. All of us have the ability to connect. But you have to decide if you want to avail yourself to do the job. To connect others. To bring answers and ask thought provoking questions.
As I get older I want more meaningful, honest, relationships in my life. Honesty does not mean being unkind. Communication is key and how you say something, how your deliver the message is very important. I don't have time for drama, and superficial people in my life. Because when you get down to it I want people with my family that I can fully trust that I can learn from (and those who can learn for me.) One thing all human beings want is to be understood, to be heard. So ask yourself if the people you surround yourself with truly listen to you. Do they avoid all the 'bad stuff" or are they willing to be with you for all of it?
Monique (my fellow blog writer) and I were talking this week about honesty. About using our blog to not our post of successes but our failures too. All of us are struggling with something whether it be medical, or with a relationship, or death. Wouldn't the world be a better place if we asked our friends one simple question?
Are you happy? If I haven't seen you in awhile it's one of the first questions I'm going to ask you. I think happiness and joy are so important. That doesn't mean each of us doesn't have a struggle or internal conflict of some sort to work out. It just means that each of us is on a journey. Aren't we all trying to get better in some form or fashion? Children share so willingly. Without prejudice or pretense children meet and talk to people without caring about the superficial things we notice as adults. It's such a gift. But as a community we are getting more and more focused on not talking to strangers. Not reaching out. Not getting involved.
So ask yourself if you are a good friend? Are you trying to improve the lives of those around you? Are you giving back to your family? Are you giving back to your community, to your world? Because what we say is so important. The words we use can build up someone or destroy them. So we must choose carefully. Our time on this Earth is precious. None of us knows when our last day will be here. So we must make every interaction count. We must take it upon ourselves to make a impact.
People ask me all the time why I spend my free time helping heart patients. The reason is simple. I can help them by providing information. Helping them figure out which questions to ask their doctors. I can talk to people in other countries and let them know about medical advancements here. Do I "have" to do it? I guess not but I want to. It's an amazing thing to connect to someone who understands where you are coming from, who feels their pain. People did it for me and now I can share what I have learned.
So ignore all the things you have heard about "not getting involved" in certain situations. Go towards the fire, and find someone who needs the answers only you possess. Make your life have a impact. We we all be richer for it.