greater than you think

A guy I went to high school with… we’re friends on facebook. He was in the “party” crowd, hung out with the jocks and the burn-outs. I was in the “brainy” crowd, hung out with the band geeks and the alterna-kids. I’ve noticed, in our facebook friendship, that he’s not a fan of our current President. This is not a big deal, but sometimes he’s posted stuff that I’ve found a bit offensive. As a result, I don’t subject him to most of my posts on facebook. I would clutter his feed with… me. Which he might find a bit offensive.

I did notice, in spite of this loose facebook connection, that he welcomed his second son into the world a couple weeks ago, with a concise, “baby time” post. But three days later, he posted a much lengthier explanation that his son was gravely ill, having essentially inhaled meconium upon birth. The newborn was in very bad shape.

I googled the diagnosis. I nearly cried.

I hadn’t connected with this guy directly at all since the beginning of our facebook friendship, but I posted a comment, assuring him, or reminding him, that he was strong, and so was his new son, and that my family sent him our hopes and prayers.

Today, two weeks later, I saw he was online. I was almost scared to check his timeline, fearing that his son had taken a turn for the worse. He had not. He has made a strong recovery. I was so relieved, and I posted as much on his timeline.

Within seconds, he posted to mine: “… of all the people that responded to my post I have looked most kindly to yours. We really didn’t know each other that well and were definetly not in the same crowd. But the fact that u took the time to give me support and prayer says alot. Thank you… Today you stood out in my book. I wish the best to you and your family.”

I responded equally quickly: “You’re a daddy. I’m a mommy. We’re in the same crowd now that we’re all grown up! And thank you for this post. Makes my heart swell.”

He “liked” it, instantly.

This means something. Or nothing.

But, it makes me happy. None of us have so little in common that we can’t appreciate what each other does. None of us has so little in common that we can’t be lifted by another, when we need it most. We all have our points of entry, into our sphere of sympathy and empathy.

My high school classmate found mine. And I found his.

This weekend, I’ll be spending time away from my family and with a few lovely women, with whom I do not always agree politically, philosophically, or religiously… women who, 25  years ago, were not in the same crowd as me. I’ve grown nervous about it, one week away from an election that I find vitally important. I’ve grown nervous that at least some of these women may find me… a bit offensive.

But my high school classmate, tonight, has reminded me that I don’t need to be nervous. I need to remember that I’m very good at finding points of entry. I’m very good at knocking on a door, and greeting whoever opens it, with a smiling reminder that we always have more in common than we think. I think we’re all very good at this. But we’re good at forgetting what we’re good at.

Here’s to remembering. We always have a greater impact on one another than we think.




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