May 1st. That’s the last time I wrote a blog post.
All of May went by. Then June. Now July.
And you’re probably wondering why.
Some dear readers have even written to me, asking if I’m OK – thank you. You remind me that the words I write are helpful.
But even that awareness hasn’t been enough.
Because it’s hard to write 10 Things You Need To Know About Networking when people are getting shot.
When Dallas happens. When Orlando happens. When Nice happens. Yemen, Baghdad, Cairo, Munich, Kabul.
Syria. Boko Haram. ISIS.
Philando Castile. Alton Sterling. A therapist trying to help an autistic man.
It seems trivial and superficial for me to write about How To Be Yourself when the US is facing one of the most consequential elections in history. When the UK deals with Brexit. When Turkey has a coup.
I’ve been over here gawping for air like a fish washed up on the shore, people.
Then I remembered my four words for 2016: Real. Presence. Generous. Opportunities.
I’m not being very real or generous by staying silent. I don’t have a presence if I’m not here.
I’m not using the opportunities I have to say the things that might help you (and me) cope through these difficult days.
So, I’m going to try. Let me tell you a story.
About ten years ago – it was a Friday night in January – I was home with my sick son. We heard a loud bang and then smelled the acrid scent of burning electrical wiring. If you’ve ever smelled it, you never forget it.
I ran to every room in the house, trying to figure out what had happened. As I careened down the steps to the basement, I saw thick, white smoke hanging from the ceiling. Not good. Threw open the door to the room where the HVAC system and circuit breaker box is located, and smoke was two feet thick there. I grabbed the phone, dialed 911, took my son by the hand and quickly left the house.
My next-door-neighbor had invited me for wine earlier, which I had declined because my son was sick and I didn’t want him to feel puny and all alone. When I knocked on her door, she was delighted. “You can have wine!” I said, “No. Hear those sirens in the distance? They’re coming to my house.” I explained the situation, she took my son in hand and I went to meet the fire trucks.
Nine of them.
The feeling in the pit of your stomach when firefighters with axes prepare to enter your home is like nothing you can imagine. And seeing the hoses uncoiled, ready to soak your house is both encouraging and terrifying.
The red lights were turning, the fire chief in his white hat was talking with me, and my heart was pounding like I’d run a marathon.
After they had inspected the house, determined that the circuit breaker board had exploded (thankfully, it’s mounted on a cinder block wall or else those hoses and axes might have had to have been used), and turned off all power to the house, the most extraordinary thing happened.
My neighbors started coming.
First, the close in neighbors who I know well, asking if I needed anything. It was January, after all. Did we have a place to stay?
Then, the farther out neighbors. Elderly neighbors. Young neighbors. Could they pitch in? Did I need anything? Did the kids need anything?
Folks walked up the hill, and around the corner. Not looky-loos, but people who wanted to help. Who were ready to help.
It was so kind, and made me feel so connected and cared for. I wasn’t all by myself dealing with a catastrophe – I was part of a community who was looking out for one of its own.
And this is what we need to remember during these trying times.
When we feel like we’re all alone and there’s nothing we can do – there’s always something we can do.
Because when neighbors help neighbors, communities thrive. When communities thrive, nations thrive.
And when your neighborhood extends to those you don’t know, who don’t look like you, whose life experiences are different from yours, who think differently, who are in need…the planet thrives.
So, let’s all be a community, shall we? Let’s be kind to one another and find ways to connect and help.
There’s a lot coming at all of us these days, sugars, and the only way to get past it is to get through it. Together.