Had a chat with an acquaintance today; someone who consistently keeps the banter lively. This convo was exactly that, there was good momentum, interesting content but fairly brief and in the end I did the thing where you say “Everyone’s good right?”. Thinking we’ll both say yes and move about our day, except he didn’t. What was replied was something along the lines of “things are pretty messed up….it’s bad…there’s a lot going on”.
Usually skilled in these situations, I felt caught off guard. My only reply was a slowed version of okay, and then I nodded. I was trying to say all the things with that nod, asking too much from it. Wanting to express I care, I see you, if someone’s sick maybe I could help; I couldn’t let out actual words. If my look was in emoji format I’d need to insert no less than a dozen options. I could sense this person wasn’t going to discuss details which was fine, it was a things-are-shit-and-I’ve-gotta-run kinda ending.
What I wanted to say but didn’t was: it looks the same in nearly everyone’s house. If it doesn’t at this moment it probably has at some point. Human’s are complicated, life’s difficult and we’re all grappling with something that feels like too much. We might think things cracked with politics or the pandemic but I’m hoping we realize many things were already well past their breaking point. And here we are, nearly all of us, out in public with our collective shit.
There’s illness, injury and aging that has to be dealt with – our own and our families. Kids are struggling. Learning and play has changed, what the kids (and us grown ups) knew is now interrupted and being redefined. Marriages and relationships can break and sometimes they’re not fixable.
Zero clues were asked or given for what was not being discussed today. I feel like we’re all one flat tire, broken washing machine, and a dead hot water heater away from major meltdown(s).
I regret not having the forethought to say that his life is possibly all of us. I don’t think my attempt at the expressive nod was enough. I’m an over analyzer (I refuse to fix this piece of me) therefore I thought about it all day. I missed the opportunity to extend a more human version of compassion. But I understand the assignment a little better now. When an impromptu meet up on the run ends with a drive by life is shit, I’ll use words in real time that say “I’m sorry friend I hear you”. In the meantime I’ll be working on a more distinct caring nod.