It's been raining here in Colorado. You may have heard. Thankfully here in Durango we are not suffering from the horrific flooding that the Eastern part of the state is, and I find my thoughts often drifting to those folks lately. It's a helpless feeling, watching an unstoppable natural event. Here in South West CO we need the rain, and this past week brought more of it than we have had all summer. I've noticed an interesting thing. Even though we are a seven hour drive away from the areas hit hardest by the flooding, and to my knowledge the rains here have been more of a blessing than a curse, people are looking out for one another. Multiple times last week I had clerks at various shops say "stay safe" rather than the usual "have a nice day". I think there is a heightened awareness of personal safety when part of your state is going through something like this. Maybe it was because last week also contained September 11, a day when everyone seems to be a bit more open and sensitive to the well being of their neighbors.
While I obviously don't wish tragedy on anyone, I would like to see more of this attitude expressed in general, and preferably without the need for catastrophic events.
I'm fortunate to be in a profession where asking how someone is, and really listening to the answer is a big part of my day. Or rather, I prefer this attitude, and so here I am in this profession. Often when I first greet a client there will be the obligatory "Hi, how are you?" and the answer will be "great!"
After all, they are here to get a massage, so life is understandably grand.
But once they are settled in a chair and I ask again, it's often a different answer. The stories of broken hearts or disappointments come. The lost job, the, ailing parent, the falling out between good friends. Somehow it's just not OK to let out the truth that we may be struggling with something in public. Not until we feel truly engaged by another do we let the wall slip.
I do understand that sometimes it's better not to lay all of our woes out in the grocery line just because someone happened to ask how we are doing. There are rules and social queues that help us negotiate when and where it's OK to say how we really feel. On the other hand, I have seen some truly beautiful exchanges between folks who do not know each other. Sometimes all it takes is an acknowledgement that this person in front of you is moving through something hard. A touch on the hand or shoulder. A look in the eye that says that you hear them. It can make all the difference. You may be the only person that day to truly acknowledge that life for them is hard right now. Often that one exchange can lighten that person just enough. It can make a real difference, perhaps for both of you.