This past week was a doozy! Frankly the past several weeks have been cray cray as the hip cats like to say but last week was one that sucked me dry; the only redeeming factor in last week is that college boy was home. When both my babies are under my roof, it tends to brighten my outlook on life immensely.
Last week was moving week for my organization, regular readers know I head a small faith based non-profit and when I say small I mean small. Fundraising did not go as well as we had hoped so in the end, we enlisted an army of volunteers to form a rag tag group to get everything into the new space. Most of my work has been trying to set up the new center and weed through trash. Good times…not!
Anyway this post isn’t about my job or how shitty my week was because really it wasn’t that bad, just physically demanding. This post is about how sometimes we get so caught up in living our lives that we aren’t present and sometimes, just sometimes we really do need to be present because maybe it could make a difference.
A few days ago while thick in the midst of lifting boxes and trying to get the office set up, I took a break and went to the pizza joint a few doors down from my office. It’s a small town and thanks to my job, most businesses know me, so I figured I’d shoot the shit with the owner while waiting for my order. Frankly I wish I had skipped that break, but I didn’t.
I was greeted with the news, had I heard that Mr. X, another local business owner had committed suicide? BGIM say what? See, Mr. X was one of the owners of the bar that was next door to my center before our move…a bar next door to a faith based community center make for strange bedfellows. However since Mr. X and his partner had taken over the place, I found them far more respectful than the previous owner; he seemed like a decent guy often stopping in and speaking with me. A few times we had had conversations where it was clear something was on his mind but to be frank I deal with people and their problems all the time and lately have been in a I don’t want to hear it mindset. I regret that now, not because I could have stopped the path he chose but maybe had I done more actual listening, the guy would have known someone was listening to him.
It turned out that Mr. X had a checkered past, a very checked past, but apparently I was one of the few people who did not know this. It seems that in buying the bar, Mr. X was attempting to turn his life around but I guess it didn’t happen. The last time I saw Mr. X was just hours before he took his own life, leaving behind a child who is now father-less. I feel bad because he clearly wanted to talk to me and all I wanted to do was leave the office and get home to enjoy the holidays with my family. I won’t lie this bothers me on a deep and visceral level.
I am not a social worker by training since my education is in management of non-profits though I spent years doing case management nor am I an official clergy member. Yet in my job, people clearly expect and need someone to listen to them and I admit it’s a struggle at times, but in the end I know I need to do it. Furthermore we all need to listen, I am struck by in general how casual we are with words these days, snark is entertainment, how little compassion we have in general. I read this piece by one of my favorite bloggers tonight which inspired me to write this even though there is not a direct connection. We are living in a time where many people don’t have connections near them and for some they go online to make connections yet others will poo poo them or look down on them. I am starting to re-evaluate my life and thinking that not only do I need to be present for myself and my family but for anyone the universe has decided should cross my path.
In the end none of us may be able to save another, but we can make a difference by meeting everyone with a smile and our presence.