It has been a tough week.I strive to be in all cases a happy, trusting person who sees the best in people. But people (all of us) are imperfect, and no matter how much you want to trust, sometimes they let you down. And someone I care deeply for let me down by breaking my trust. I feel angry, I feel betrayed, I feel used, and I feel sad. Sadness for me, but even moreso for this person, who I know is hurting deeply himself, and who seems to be self-destructing, lashing out and alienating people who care for him—the ones who could help make it better.
I did what I thought was right—tried to have a conversation to salvage some kind of friendship by trying to understand the truth vs. hearsay. But things backfired: he misunderstood my intent, and the relationship got even worse. It would have been easier (and more comfortable) not to try at all. It's times like this I wish I didn't care so much about people. But the truth is that I believe that people and relationships are what matter most in life. I tried, but sometimes I think you just have to grieve and move on.
Then last night I learned that one of my heroes at work, a powerful, smart, beautiful-inside-and-out, talented, funny woman whom I've looked up to since the day I met her... has leukemia. Cindy has known for two months and just started a Caring Bridge page to keep her fans informed. It's another thing that seems so unfair, and impossible to understand or explain. How could this happen to such an amazing person?
I shared Cindy's news with my friend Richard, who sent me this message. I think it's very powerful, and it is helping me reframe these unpleasant things, so I hope he won't mind that I quote him. I think this is profound:
"The true value of something lies in its potential, not in its actuality. Potential is forever. It does not degrade or disappear with time. As such, the true value of something, or someone, is by its very nature forever safe from harm. Put another way, the true value of people does not lie in their tangible presence, but in their potential to impact us emotionally. And this power is something that the memory of a person can facilitate, even while the "physical manifestation" component is missing. The deeper implication of this insight might be put forward as: The true value of a person is something completely unaffected by the prospects of his or her death."
I hadn't ever thought about it that way, but I agree, and it brought me some solace, though I'm not sure that it will ease my grief. (Richard must be more highly evolved than me.) Cindy is a strong, capable person whom I fully expect to put up a helluva fight, and my hope—my belief—is that soon she will be in remission. In any case, she has made an indelible mark on me and my life, and I'm thankful for that.
And as hurt and angry as I am about person #1, he has too. And I expect that some day I will find some goodness that has come from knowing him—the positive impact of his emotional potential that is so difficult for me to see right now.
My last revelation from tonight is something that another coworker, Tara, said to me in a message, responding to me sharing my disbelief and sadness over Cindy's diagnosis. "These things remind us to live life to the fullest. For what it's worth, you are one of my most profound examples in that regard. You make your life into your very own adventure. I love that about you. It's fun to watch. You're good for the world, my friend."
It is one of the kindest things anyone has ever said to me—and I've heard similar sentiments from many people I've met. I'm humbled by the thought that anyone would see me in this way, and thankful to be the person I am. Thankful even when my friends are hurting, or when a friend is hurting me.
I do wish life weren't so tough sometimes, but this is the human condition and you have to take the tough with the triumphant. This is all a reminder to myself of the huge potential for each of us to impact others' lives and the care we should exercise.