Inventions and Introspection

I read an excerpt the other day that spoke about an invention in the future that would let us know when things were coming to an end, in a gentle way. The idea was that it would allow us to cherish moments, savor them and show appreciation. I’ve mulled the idea over quite a bit the last few days, both in general reflection and in light of recent events.

I’ve learned over the last handful of years that life is here one minute and gone the next. Heck, just this morning I was nearly in a head-on collision at the intersection at work, thanks to the ever changing lane configurations from the seemingly never-ending construction project. Twice now in that same intersection, I have been spared by inches.

As I drove the property and did my patrol, that invention popped into my head yet again. A few inches more or a little slower reflexes and this morning could have been entirely different. Would it have shone brighter several times in the previous days, having seen friends and family for the holiday? Would I want to know that was the last time? Would my loved ones? I don’t know that I would.

Maybe rather than knowing things were coming to an end, that little orb could shift colors or brightness to indicate how the person we were interacting with was feeling. Several times over the years I’ve thought about how much differently we treat people when we can see their ailment- hold the door for the dude on crutches; help the lady in the sling carry her stuff, etc. The inside stuff is harder to see, both because it takes courage and vulnerability to show it and it takes courage and understanding to see it and step towards it when many others would walk away. I recall one phone call made to a friend about 5 years ago, asking him to come over and beat me up so that I’d look on the outside how I felt on the inside. He did come over, but he wrapped me in a hug instead.

Would the actions of someone be taken in a different light if you could tell they were on the verge of overwhelmed or grief stricken or lonely? Would they carry more weight if you could see their light was dimmer than it had been the last time you saw them? Long ago I heard to “Imagine everyone wearing an invisible sign around their neck that says “Make me feel important.””. How many people actually go out of their way to do that?

I’ve pondered the little orbs being like magnets, drawing near to you what was meant for you and repelling that which you should avoid. But how many lessons would be missed, how many unforeseen or unexpected blessings would never come to fruition? How many experiences and how much knowledge would be left undiscovered due to mishaps and misgivings? I know without a doubt that some of the most meaningful and impactful things in my life have come out of (or from) situations, circumstances and people that likely would fall in the “should avoid” category; but they’ve shaped me into the woman I am.

How much would these little orbs of the future really change my interactions with people? I can’t say with any certainty. I try to make it a point to believe that everyone is doing their best at any given time, as it keeps me from judgment and lets me focus on what is happening (rather than on what I think should or could be). I do my best to remember names and little nuggets about people- their favorite color or candy, or that thing they said they had going on- so that I can revisit that when next I see them. I ask questions and learn about passions, so people will feel heard and seen. I love- sometimes loudly, sometimes subtly, and always freely.

There is no love that I’ve given that I’d want to take back, regardless of how things turned out. Friends turned to strangers, strangers to friends, olive branches extended and ignored or used to smack instead, smiles exchanged with strangers, random compliments, deaths and births, struggles and successes, I’d do it all- all over again. I would do it without hesitation, because the ripples caused by kindness are vast and there’s never a way of knowing our full impact.

Goodness knows my little light has been rekindled countless times by a hug or a smile, a song or a stranger, an inside joke or a knowing look. I love you, even when we’re just flickers. I just find myself wishing sometimes we didn’t have to explain when our lights were dim, others would just see you and share their warmth and light.

Flicker, flicker.


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