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Things Unsaid

We all have people in our lives that we have lost touch with that, if we could, we’d track down and say what we feel to them. It might be an ex-boyfriend, or a girl you had a crush on in high school that you couldn’t quite bring yourself to express your feelings to. Maybe it was a co-worker who brightened your day, or a schoolmate who made your life a living hell that you want to give a piece of your mind to.

For reasons I cannot fathom, we have become a society that is trained to keep our feelings close to the vest. It is a value we teach our kids; one we pass on to friends in the form of advice; don’t let anyone know what you’re thinking or feeling.

It’s bad advice. I know it first hand; I used to give the same advice, after all. Don’t ask how they feel about you; don’t tell them how you feel about them. The less they know the better. The less you know the happier you’ll be.

Over the past couple of years, I have been astonished to find out that there were several people who I hadn’t thought to be particularly friendly towards me who had strong feelings about me; in some cases, admiration and in even one or two, romantic feelings. In at least one case, it was someone who I had a crush on myself, someone I thought was far too pretty for me to even have a remote shot. How differently I would have felt about myself, how much more confidence might I have had if I knew these people had these feelings about me. I wonder how their lives would have been changed if they knew how I felt.

It just doesn’t make sense to me anymore, and as the years behind begin to outnumber the years ahead, I realize that it is long past time to rectify the situation, and not just with people in my past – people in my present too. This is the year of establishing connections.

In truth, we mostly are forced to avoid connections. The world is a hard place, and we are taken advantage of, screwed over and generally made to feel alone and powerless. That’s how the powers that be like it – because the more alone and powerless we feel, the less likely we are to do anything about a world where we’re taken advantage of and screwed over. The fact is when we make connections, we become stronger. We feel stronger because there is strength in numbers. It makes us feel less powerless and more apt to tell the powers that be that they can go stick it where the sun don’t shine.

Connections create support networks. When we are at our weakest, when we need help because of things outside of our control, having a support network can lift you up temporarily above all the muck and grime. It also gives us additional resources from an emotional standpoint. I truly believe that the more people who are willing to help ease your pain, the easier it is to bear it. Shared pain, wrote science fiction author Spider Robinson, is lessened; shared joy is increased. That is our gift as humans; the ability to share both pain and joy. It is as vital to our emotional well-being as the ability to love. Without those two things, we’re just animals pawing in the dirt.

There are those who are of the opinion that it’s better to have a small core group of people that are your friends and that the rest of the world merely gets a polite hello and a not-so-sincere how are you today. If that works for you, more power to you. Some people don’t feel comfortable in crowds.

I think it’s much better to have as many friends and even acquaintances as you can. We were meant to be social animals; that’s why Facebook is so successful. We automatically reach out and we feel uncomfortable when we’re alone. We’re pack animals at heart.

On my Facebook account, I have something like 3,000 friends – mostly as a result of the Mafia Wars game. How many have I actually interacted with outside of the game? About 1,000, give or take. How many of them do I really know? Probably about 100. Add to that the 400 friends I have in MyYearbook and about 100 in Bebo and there are people all around the globe who at least know my name (it’s a pretty unforgettable name, to be fair). Many of them I’ve had at least some conversation with. But every time I’ve reached out to any of them, I’ve gotten something back in return, often something precious – something that has added to my perspective on life and the world and given me the joy I feel most of the time. There is a risk-reward ratio, but the rewards have so far outweighed the risk, at least in my case.

I go at these things with open heart and try to be as honest and open as I can (without freaking them out too much). People aren’t used to that; it’s refreshing when it happens. And trust me, having someone tell you that you’re special can really help revise your opinion about the harshness of life in an awful hurry. Imagine if someone new told you that every day. How much better would you feel about yourself?  How long would it take before you began to believe it?

Most of us have been banged up enough that we feel that we’re insignificant and unworthy of the admiration of others. Most of us have been told that over and over again; we’ve been marginalized, ignored, overlooked and taken for granted to the point that we truly believe that we deserve to be. It’s kind of sick what we do to each other.

I have a friend in Georgia who believes much the same as I do. Some of my writing caught her eye and connected with her and rather than just let it go, she sought me out and told me what it meant to her. Of course, this was enormously gratifying to me, but moreover, this is someone who has helped me see what these little essays (and other writings I post online) mean to people and how they affect them. Someone close to her had recently passed away, making her all the more aware of how precious and brief our lives can be. She didn’t want to waste the opportunity of making a connection with someone new; this, in a sense, is her blog. She inspires me with her generosity and her love for the world around her. It is in her honor that I will spread my own love as far and as wide as it can reach – who knows, that may be the revolution that is more lasting than the one in Cairo is.

So I’m going to lead by example. Don’t be surprised if you find me sending you an IM or an e-mail over the next year wherein I pour out my heart to you and for those that I haven’t really gotten to know, don’t be surprised if I make the attempt. Life is too hard to not to want to disperse the pain among as many as are willing to bear it. Life is too short not to want to share the joy with as many as are willing to share it. I hope it will inspire you to make connections of your own and if not, I hope at least you will find my connection of value to you.


8 Responses

  1. Nothing I can add to this excellent, heart-moving sharing — except to say I wholeheartedly agree.

  2. Great phlosophy …… if only everyone felt this way….
    Thanks, mate.

  3. Thank you for sharing this with everyone. Very touching and very moving. *hugs tight*

  4. Carlos, thank you for that insight! I agree that we are all too ready to NOT speak our feelings. I have moved a lot in my life (28 times in 30 years) and you easily loose touch with people who matter. I have come across some folks who told me later what they felt and it was a real surprise to me…who knows how differently I would have lived had I known. So, now I make an effort to tell folks what I think and feel. Even something as simple as “I like your new haircut”. I know that in this age of political correctness and sexual harrassment awareness, things like that can get you in trouble, but I think that if you phrase them correctly they can be the light in someone’s day, and sometimes even their year. I make an effort to thank people at the grocery store, like the little gal who sweeps the floor and they guy in the deli who got my order right, or the cashier who’s working on Christmas Eve or Easter Sunday (or whatever THEIR holiday may be). It’s such a little thing to tell people we appreciate them, but it means a great deal.
    SO! Thank you so much for posting this blog, for sharing it and especially for honoring your friend, who had the courage to contact you, thanks for telling her it matters!

  5. I agree with you. I wish more people thought this way. Screw political correctness!! Say what you mean and mean what you say, I always say! LOL! Well written!!! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Bravo, you are brave and appreciated.

  7. This is so sweet. So true. I appreciate you. Thanks Carlos…..

  8. yeah nice

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