Blessed

I am so blessed that my kids do not have to endure the struggle that is stuttering. Looking at them tonight at dinner, I marvel not only at their growth, but at their tenacity, their wit, and their innocence. I want everything for them, with as little pain and disappointment as possible.

I know what living with stuttering as been like. It is a struggle everyday. They don’t have to deal with that. They are “normal” in that respect.

One less hurdle they don’t have to jump.
One less dragon to slay.

And that makes me happy.

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To Be Understood

Someone once asked me why I write and publish this blog. Why take the time to write down my thoughts?

Like so many times before, this got me thinking beyond just the question asked of me. It got me thinking of people in general. And not just blogs. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, other types of social media. Why do we put these things out in the universe for people to read or look at? What do we gain from it? What do our “friends” gain from it?

In perusing my own Facebook stream, there are posts and pictures on all kinds of topics. As of right this minute, I see posts about the death of Robin Williams, an update from my mother-in-law on her television watching habits, and loads of pictures of others’ little ones. Pictures of children, specifically, litter my feed on a daily basis. In the past, I’ve seen people share things from stories of tearing tendons in their pinky toes to asking for prayers for their family. I’ve seen announcements of death. I’ve seen announcements of birth. I’ve seen sadness, grief, happiness, joy.

All online for their friends to read, share, experience. For the world to read.

Why?

For all intents and purposes (thank you, mom, for that ingrained saying), these people are strangers in our everyday lives. They know of us, but they don’t know us. Not like our spouses know us. Not like our brothers and sisters know us. Our closest friends. Even our kids.

Yet, we let them in and share things that once were considered deeply personal. Our anguish, our bliss, our excitement. And in Instagram’s case, even our dinner.

Again, why do we do it?

I think we, as human beings, crave to be understood. We want to be accepted. If not in a specific group or team, then in society as a whole. We try to conform. And even when we actively rebel against conformity, we end up joining a group of others who have also decided to rebel. We want to belong.

Back in 2011, I started this blog with the intent of sharing my thoughts on happenings and experiences in my own life. Stories I had read, events I had witnessed (or been a part of), shows I had watched, thoughts that whirl around in my wandering mind from time to time. It was an outlet.

But more importantly, it was me sharing my own thoughts with others, hoping they would understand me a little better. Hoping they would get a glimpse of what makes me tick, make them see who I really am. In public, depending on how you know me, I am a joker guy, a serious work guy, and/or a wings and beer sports watching guy. (Jayme likes to say the fact that I prefer boneless wings instead of bone-in tends to negate my macho guy persona.)

But what people don’t always realize is that I am actually a very thoughtful guy, in the sense that I sit around pondering random thoughts and playing out various scenarios to their sometimes extreme end. I will watch movies and find myself lost in various thoughts that have nothing to do with the actual plot. And in all of these thoughts and ponderings, I wonder what other people think. How they would respond to the same questions. How they process information differently than me. Are they right? Am I right? Is there a right?

So, to answer that question for others wondering the same thing, I put my thoughts down on (digital) paper. I write posts like this one on understanding things, so you can understand me.

Understand?

Ripples

On a recent trip to the west coast, Starbucks became my new best friend each morning. I’m so used to getting up and making my own cup(s) of coffee, I was having serious withdrawal. One particularly early morning, I found myself locked out of the parking garage. It didn’t open until 6:00am. I looked at my phone. 5:02am. Damn. So, poor planning on my part. Got it. What can I do for another 58 minutes rather than trekking back to the hotel? Wouldn’t you know it, there’s a Starbucks right next door. And when do they open? Yep, 5:00am.

Saved.

I walked in and realized I had never seen a Starbucks so empty. Not surprising, as I’m not usually there as they open the doors at 5am. I walked around to the counter, and the barista greeted me with a very inviting smile and their (I’m sure) patented motto “What can I get started for you?” I ordered my venti non-fat, no-whip, 2-pump mocha. I needed the extra flavor this morning, as I had a set out on a 2-hr drive once I could get to the car.

She tapped it all in, looked up, smiled, and gave me the total. A newbie at using the Starbucks mobile app, I had to ask her for help. She tapped the taps needed to get to the pay function, and helped me scan it into the little barcode reader thing. She looked like she felt sorry for me, as I fumbled to understand how to use this new-fangled technology. But that look was given in the nicest and most genuine way possible.

It was then that I noticed how beautiful she was. Not in the model sense, and not in the high school popularity sense. In the naturally beautiful way. Hair pulled back in a ponytail. Wearing the stupid green hat they make them wear. But that stupid hat seemed to compliment her. Her smile was warm, genuine. And her eyes sparkled. Gorgeously light blue. The kind of girl you can actually see yourself talking to, getting to know, being your absolute self with. She was “I want you to meet my friends, my parents, my family” material. Definitely.

She scurried off to make my specialty drink and I walked over to the seated bar by the window. As I set my stuff down, I thought about her. What was her life like? What were her friends like? Where did she live? Did she have a boyfriend? A husband? A girlfriend? How did she draw the early shift this morning? Had she switched with a co-worker? Did she go to school? Did she have any kids?

It is fascinating to think about random people you interact with on any given day. They have all of these situations happening in their lives that you know nothing about, and will never know about. Life threads that will never, ever intersect with you again. Except for this moment. Except for the moment when you order a venti non-fat, no-whip 2-pump mocha. And she smiles at you.

So, I thought to myself. What would happen if, after she has handed me my drink, I told her “Excuse me, but I just couldn’t leave here without telling you how beautiful you are. I hope you know that. Have a wonderful day.”

What would she say? How would she react?

Seat aside the immediate reaction for a moment. How would that change her day? Would she tell her co-worker what had happened and they share a smile and giggle? Would it make her feel better if she was having a rough morning? Would it make her feel beautiful? Would it make her smile on the inside for the rest of the day? The week? The month? Would it cause her to text her boyfriend or girlfriend and set up plans for that night? Maybe ask to set up a trip for them to go on with their next available vacation time?

That simple statement could have a profound impact on her day, her relationships, her work. Even her life.

All stemming from a single statement. A compliment.

Maybe she finishes her shift and is on her way home, and lets someone in traffic when she normally wouldn’t. That person, benefitting from her nice gesture, makes it just in time to see their kids’ first hit at a baseball game. And that person, at their child’s celebratory dinner, tips their waiter a bit more than they normally would. And with that extra tip money made, it allows the waiter to make his final payment on an engagement ring.

And so on. And so on.

That simple statement, that ripple, can affect so many lives beyond that of the two people originally involved.

That’s powerful. And inspiring.