These days have me thinking a lot about the 6 degrees of separation theory. The idea behind it is that someone is only 6 people away from knowing anyone. Like, I’m friends with Bob, who has a cousin, Sue, who is dating Jim, who went to school with Carrie, who worked for Steve, who is from the same town Justin Timberlake grew up in. Bam!! I know JT! I wish.
You realize how small the world is when you break it down by 6 people at a time.
When something goes wrong in the life of someone you know, it really hits you. There’s a sense of relief at first. Like, “Oh phew, it wasn’t someone close to me.” That’s how selfish we are as people. But a second after that, you immediately jump to, “Wait, what if it had been someone close to me? It could just as easily have been.” And that’s just the luck of the draw isn’t it? We all witness terrible things happening around us until it’s our turn. It makes you thankful and makes you love a bit harder and stay on the phone a bit longer. For that small amount of time you hold close what you have and appreciate the little moments.
I also feel the need to be at the side of this person who is hurt, this person who I only know through someone else, this person who doesn’t know me. I’m probably the last person on their mind and there isn’t even a thing I could do to help, but I want to be there.
No one experiences or processes tragedy in the same way. We all exist and respond and connect in different ways. Those are the most selfish times in a person’s life, the times when they have suffered a great loss. When you can scream at the top of your lungs because you think no one hears you, you can cry and push or be silent and stare or just pretend it’s all a bad dream. No one can touch you because they aren’t in it like you are.
I want to be there for the person I do know because they are suffering watching their loved ones suffer. Is the comfort of another being helpful or is it overstepping? I don’t know them well, I wasn’t closely involved; is it disrespectful to put myself in the middle of it? All I want is to offer a hug or a shoulder or make the food or handle the bills or make the phone calls or walk the pets. All I want to do is help because I know it could have just as easily been me.