Between the card and the call.
There is part of each of us that is seldom brought to the front and sometimes it shows up unannounced, and then we go hmm. It happens, and when we think about it we have a warm feeling about the awareness that we noticed, and a twinge. The twinge is similar to a cool drink on a warm day when we were kids and had been playing hide and seek, and you could feel it run down the entire throat to your stomach. Not just the cold in your mouth, but so much more…
I think that there is a similar place that gets a bit of sunshine from time to time, and if we allow it, and don’t scare it back into the dark place, we will realize that we were glad that it came out.
I saw it happen the other day and it went like this. Very simply the other person said, “Thanks for the call. I really appreciated you taking the time to make the call.” That’s it. I hope you weren’t expecting more… there isn’t any. I simply acted on the prompting to reach out to a person and they were surprised and felt “attended to” even just a little by a friendly voice. I needed nothing except to say I had neglected to call for a while, and wanted to put that right again. This has two sides, you know. Yours and mine. One to give and one to get. If you think about it for even just a wee bit, you will know that the gift is returned even in the giving of it. The voice rises, and you can hear them smile as the say your name, and you smile. You know what I am saying, and even now you might be making a list of numbers to ring up. Some with a smile, and some with guilt for the time between this and the last time…
We all have a list of people that we can make. Then we put a graph together and plot a frequency rate. Some are once a week, or even daily, and some are so random and sporadic that we need a symbol to represent that it even happens, like a five year reunion, its fun but I am not going out of my way. And then a tragedy happens and we send a card, or make a call. We mentally have another list. (Don’t mention this, don’t expect to talk but only listen, don’t think it will be deep since it never is, be ready for the random nature of the conversation that will always blow you away). That kind of list runs in the background as well. Unspoken, and not needing it, but it is there.
Sometimes it is found to be just the right day to let them vent off a bit of frustration, and sometimes they are just busy, but most always they will be glad you called. That is the issue, really. That you did. You thought of them. Really! They are real because someone acknowledged their existence. That is the little part of us that comes to the light and gets warm in the sunshine, for just a little while. Then we can put that part away and go on with our day, because that is what happens when we get that call. I am certain that it is so rare an event that it is almost a stranger when it shows up to get some warmth, and we catch a glimpse.
It is the similar for a card in the mail. Something is different with a card though. It holds a bit of surprise in its being. It’s very existence stands for hope. Not for your notable anniversary, birth of a child or any other expected thing… but random and unjustified, personal and candidly vulnerable. “I miss your smile”, “the sound of your voice reminds me of your mom” or something like that… It is ok to be whimsical and fun, short, direct, and you leave them wishing for more… It is ok…
A card, simple or complex, is tactile. Drip some cologne on it just to bring the point home… bacon grease or garlic will do the same thing, it will leave a memory past the day of its arrival. That you cared… that the recipient is valued and that they are real. It is the heart cry of the Velveteen Rabbit when he asks the donkey, “How will I know I am real?” And the reply is profound. “when your stitching is pulled, and the shine is rubbed off…” Oh, to be so loved. The pain of lost shine is so very real, but so are the rewards of the labors in being loved.
In the book, “Hard Survival” there becomes a theme that was a surprise to me. The stories of the people that survived many varied and harrowing events were confronted with this same phrase, “no one will ever see me again…”. Spoken with a misty realization of their being vary singular and alone. That they made it back to civilization was certain, but that they faced the aloneness of the event was also certain. That this is such a base level of reality means that to touch it unexpectedly in another will have a profound effect. That it is a bit of work is part of the problem, but that we don’t discipline our behavior to perform the task is also a reality.
I have a sister that had some small thank you notes made with an embossed letter of her last name and then when she would see some friend do something noteworthy, or that she simply thought of them, off would go the card in the mail. Simple, short and personal. Worth the use of the time and the message that was sent, you matter to me…
Email doesn’t count. Well, it is better than being ignored, but seriously. A call is good, as you can laugh and cry and pause for a tissue, but a card is “real”. Real at a level that matters. The bump in your heart is called serotonin and it is the gift you get when you send the card, when they get the card, and when you tell a friend that you got one. It is the gift that is spread around by even watching the gift be given. To know that you are real when you see good things happen. It is why when you participate in the act of helping others helping yet others you all are better. It is affirming to the group and the one being helped.
It is time to do something. Be a bit above expectation. Classy and stylish. Understated and truly sincere. Vulnerability is the currency of friendship, spend it with courage. Make the list... send the card.
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