Just yesterday, there was a tragedy in my neighborhood in my little swath of the Midwest. A life was snuffed out, perhaps nefariously, though the details are not yet clear. They may never be fully revealed, but that’s not my story to tell. It’s also not the point of this little post.
Friends who live around us and throughout the state, upon hearing the news via television, internet, or social media, began to text or message me via my social media platforms. They were worried about my other half and me. In fact, it was via one such message that I even found out what was going on, since the news was still a bit vague at that point. I had been half asleep in my bed, pondering if I should reset my alarm and try for a bit more rest since I had the opportunity, when the texts began to pour in. It took me a little more time to figure out what was going on.
It heartened me to think that so many people cared. I realized yesterday that I had a circle of people wider than I thought I did, as a number of acquaintances even reached out, finding me on Facebook through mutual friends just to make sure I wasn’t the one to whom the misfortune struck. Both the other half and I of course are fine, and while we are confused by the tragedy and wish condolences to those affected by it, we did not know the woman who was killed other than saying hello to her on the rare moments we seemed to meet in passing in the neighborhood.
But the messages got me to thinking on a certain train of thought.
Why is it that we often only check in on friends when we think something happened to them? Why is it that it takes tragedy or upheaval for us to reach out to someone? When did we as a society become so isolated despite the many ways to be connected globally that we lost the personal touch for friends? And what can we do to fix it?
This past week, I have been without internet aside from the data I had on my phone. An accidental disconnection of our cable was to blame, which of course meant the other half and I had to wait patiently for repair. Friends had offered their own Wi-Fi for our use, and I took up one offer, since it meshed well with my schedule. But I have spent a great deal of time at my little abode, working on writing the old fashioned way and reading a bit more. I also, of course, continued to work on what my other half lovingly calls “my cards.”
You see, sometime in July, I decided that for at least one full year, I would send cards out to as many people as I could, given finances and logistics. I started with just sending birthday and anniversary cards to the family and friends that I had addresses for (and was aware of their celebrations) as well as “thinking of you” cards and cards for other occasions that popped up. I also added to that list kids that were going away for college, whom may need a small pick-me-up from time to time. It’s nothing major, just about an hour or two a week handwriting little notes in the random assortment of cards I’ve purchased over the years, but it’s a small gesture I have been working on doing now for the past two full months. And the number of emails, texts, messages, and even verbal thank yous I have received have made it worth it.
I don’t mention this to brag. Far from it…. I would rather not have this thrust into the spotlight. But it’s one of my ways of checking in with people.
I find find my writing to be personal for me, and have always felt that way. I don’t write my stories for other people, I write to get my emotions out. I write to remember the events that shape my thinking and my ever evolving beliefs systems.
So even my card writing is kind of a quiet thing I do. I try to remember others as best as I can, if I can. I also do it because it was done for me so long ago. I have a number of cards saved from over the years, ones I can’t seem to part with even though they just fill a box that just sits in the back of a closet. They were written over the years by others who wanted to do the same for me, some of them long deceased. They are my inspiration for this project, and they too desired nothing more than to be the kindness the world needs to see, one person at a time.
So check in with your friends on a regular basis and make it a priority if you are able. Send them a text asking how they are doing. Make time to send a note, a card, an email to someone you haven’t heard from in awhile. Make a ice cream date or a lunch date to chat with them or communicate via phone call if they are too far away. Find ways to connect with others, and you might find out it inspires you as well. For that is the magic in the story of life, the inspiration that keeps us going.
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