Reach Out

Wonder why?

I posted a quote on Facebook a few days back that received a lot more attention than I thought it would. It rang true for me, sure, so I posted it, but then some friends liked it. And then some friends of friends liked it and so on. For me, who’ve only recently started posting as an author, it was a bigger showing than I’ve seen so far. And then I was left wondering why? What about the quote struck a cord in people?

So here’s the quote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou

I contemplated…and contemplated…and…then it struck me.

People love to feel. Why?

We’re sheltered.

When I say this I don’t mean nieve in the usual ‘she grew up sheltered’ way of saying she-doesn’t-get-it-because-she- hasn’t-experienced-life kind of way.

I mean we sit inside our metal cars or we zone at our TVs and somehow we don’t even know our neighbor’s names. We’re so isolated that we’re numb. And we want to feel!

We want to experience life and when the memory pulls us back later we want the excitement, the warmth, even the suffering or pain to be there because then and only then are we fully alive. Only then do we know we’re living.

Maybe this is why we have such violent cries for attention. All you have to do it turn on the news to see it. We’ve lost our ability to break our isolation and it stunts our humanity.

People assume to feel they have to create a scene, hurt someone, draw attention (reality tv anyone?) and, although this works, it digs deep into who we are and leaves a festering wound.

But we’re not helpless in this. Maya Angelou got it right. It’s like the movie Pay It Forward. You have the ability to change someone’s life by simply leaving them feeling better than you found them!

What a simple concept but we overlook it in our selfish desire for me. I want to feel! We miss the very basic fact that helping another enables you to feel in a healthy way. it’s altruistic and selfish in a catch-22 kind of way. Go figure.

And it doesn’t have to be complicated!

Reach Out.

On my desk sits a little card with a bear on the front from a friend. It’s cute. There was no occasion for the card, no special day or thank you to be said. Every time I look at it, I smile. Marjorie simply wrote to say hi but she did something profound. She reached into my isolated little house and made me smile.

She put extra time and energy to think of me and, with the paper and envelope, there’s a physical, not digital, proof someone cares. The internet’s great but too often we forget the people behind it are real. A tangible card with handwriting , on the other hand, can’t be ignored in the same way.

I find a warm glow at finding a letter from someone I know in the mailbox. Seeing their penmanship on the envelope automatically brings back a feeling of closeness with that friend. (Op, there’s that feeling thing again.) Funny thing is, I get that same glow when I write and mail a letter to someone else.

Now what would happen if we tried to do something like this daily? It doesn’t even have to be a card. Just something to put a smile on a person’s face. What a concept! Idealistic…maybe. Doable…absolutely.




Do you ever exclude yourself from the world? Hole up for awhile and not want to leave the house?

Plug into a video game?

Stick your nose in a book?

Zone out at the Television?


Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots. Japanese: Live instead of merely exist

The scary part in this is the tendency to make it a habit. Books are my weakness usually but whether it’s a book, a game or a tv show, the temptation to continue reading, playing or watching eats up hours of time without conscious thought. It’s a time void, an abyss that threatens to make us all lonely hermits.

And it’s the enemy when you want to accomplish something. Now, don’t get me wrong, these activities are not bad in and of themselves. They offer escape in a world that increasingly throws out a constant hive of activity demanding our attention.

However, too often that “I need a break” is the excuse used to not experience life. We delude ourselves that watching the television is experiencing when in reality it’s living vicariously from the sideline.

So, if you want to know how to dance, go dance and if you really want to see that show, record it because the dance should be the priority.

If you want to learn a language, find a Rosetta stone or a class and give it your all. You’ll experience satisfaction when you’re playing a video game and another language comes over your headset and, by golly, you know what they’re saying.

If you want to learn climbing, find a gym or a friend who can teach you. The next time you’re reading a book and the protagonist is climbing, you’ll experience the book that much more because it’ll ring true with your own experience. Or, you’ll catch when the author didn’t do enough research. Either way, it’s fun.

More importantly than the learning or achieving, what this gives you is relationship because inevitably when you want to accomplish something, it involves interacting with others. Such interactions are what add richness and texture to life because we are social creatures by nature who grow and thrive off our interactions.

For instance, in rock climbing, it is possible to free solo, or climb by one’s self. However, no amount of free soloing will teach you to communicate, or show you the importance of trust in your fellow climber, or build a relationship with a friend. You can talk to the rock as much as you want, but it won’t talk back, won’t tell you if you’re in danger beyond popping or cracking just before you fall from a lose hold, it won’t help you if or when you fall.

The time spent on those meaningful relationships is what will pick you up when you fall. Otherwise, you lie broken at the bottom just waiting for someone to hopefully notice that something’s wrong.

Even a writer who sits behind her computer needs to do research, share her craft, and leave her computer from time to time for inspiration.

The striving, the accomplishment, the relationship enrich life far more than a game, book, or show ever will.

As Oscar Wild once wrote:

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”

So avoid becoming a hermit. Enjoy your down time however you like, but for the majority of your time, live instead of merely exist.




What do you dream of doing with your life? What next step, even small, will move you toward accomplishing that dream?