Be The Love
October 20, 2017
The other day I woke up from a two-hour nights “rest” exhausted, stressed, and overloaded with notes I had been studying all night. I swear I could see information falling out of my head at the same rate it was entering as I reviewed. Disgruntled and downtrodden, I brushed my teeth (I think?) and my hair (I hope?) and left to take my exam. On the way I realized I had had nothing to eat so I stopped at a 7-11 in hopes to find some sort of brain food to awake me from my mental slumber—(but I mean, let’s be real.) I ended up with my arms full of overly concentrated bottles of caffeine, a naked smoothie, a protein bar, some pepto bysmal (not even sure why) and some allergy medicine. Upon reflection I’m fairly certain I looked like a straight up crazy person, and upon further reflection I’ve concluded that I definitely was/am (who’s not #amiright?).
I brought my miscellaneous assortment of knick-knacks to the counter where a very nice cashier welcomed me. I asked her about her day. “Pretty good, actually!” She responded. “And you?” Inside I was thinking, “I don’t know how to answer that…my brain feels like pudding and it would be an obvious leap from my present reality respond with such enthusiasm…I mostly just want to crawl into a hole and hibernate like a bear but humans don’t do that sort of thing…” but all that came out was a resounding… “ehhh I don’t know…” It definitely took longer than socially expected to conjure up that whopper of a response.
The next thing I knew a man behind the counter next to her (mid twenties, 5’ 7’’ or so, African American, in 7-11 employee uniform) said, “what’s going on?” And as I broke down a little about my exam he said, “hold on”. He then walked a fair distance to get around the counter and then towards me, and without hesitation put his arms around me in one of the warmest, most appropriate, and sincere hugs I have ever received. He then said to me, “This feels like the biggest mountain in the world right now. But I promise it will pass. A hurdle is all that it is, and everything is gonna be ok.” He retracted; I thanked him warmly and walked back out to my car.
As I drove away I couldn’t help but note what a powerful interaction that was. In that moment when a complete stranger of different gender, race, history, and who knows what else, hugged me, any polarizing issues that could be applied to our narrative ceased to exist. We were just two humans navigating this world together. I left 7-11 with a full heart, all because someone was willing to appropriately enter my space and show love.
Now, before I continue I want to make explicitly clear that this mans race as mentioned above is completely irrelevant to the following discussion. I was merely illustrating the unifying humanness that lies below all of our differences.
With that being said, I understand that too often interactions between people do not turn out so beautifully. Along with the thousands of women standing in solidarity with the #metoo movement, I too have been a victim of sexual assault. I find it hard to believe that it was coincidental that my experience with this man just happened to overlap with all of the painfully tragic stories courageously coming forward by women everywhere. By no means do I aim to demystify those experiences. They are valid, and they are all-too-real. I just want to give an example of a man who truly helped me with no ulterior motive but to lift up and support. He was just plain good, and I’m so grateful for him. I wanted to share this story not just because he lifted me up on a particularly hard day, but because he reminded me that despite all of the bad in the world, good still prevails. And that brings me peace.
Since this experience I have been feeling a strong incentive to pay it forward. I’m sure that man had plenty of his own burdens he carried and yet without hesitation he assisted me with mine. It was an unforgettable reminder to love hard, live faithfully, proceed fearlessly, and to give willingly. Sometimes that might mean reaching out to someone that looks downtrodden at a local gas station, and sometimes that might just mean spending a little extra time to look at the wild turkeys with my tiny guy. Regardless, I hope to exemplify the sort of love and light emanated by that stranger in a gas station that didn’t love me because I earned it, but because I, and all of us, deserve it.
I LOVE YOU ALL.