So…I spoke at length with a friend today. Said friend seemed in the doldrums, and I did what I could to lift their spirit. As the conversation continued, the friend admitted to me that they’d recently gotten out of the hospital after a recent suicide attempt. I was flabbergasted. I spoke with the friend about how we all have our moments of weakness, and that this is the time to turn to friends and loved ones. Those are the people who can help get you through tough times, and the most seeming perilous of moments.
So we talked, and I spoke about the positivity of life, and how, if she’s hit rock bottom, the only place to go is up. Stand up, dust yourself off,and with the help of loved ones, as well as professionals, a new view on life is just over the horizon.
Does it all sound cliche? yes! Does it sound trite to some degree? perhaps! Is it all absolutely true? Yes! It’s those kinds of thoughts that got me through a tour of Afghanistan with relative mental stability, as well as countless other moments in my life. Positivity can pull us through the darkest of times. I’m a firm believer in that.
So, at the end of the conversation, the friend mentioned that our conversation had lifted her spirits immensely. Said friends also said, “you know, before this talk with you, I was on my way to another attempt. Thank you for stopping me, and for making me feel so much better about things.”
How was I to know? And that is the point. We never know. We hear stories all the time about people who give another person a seemingly trivial word of encouragement, and learning later that one word caused a pivotal change. So did my words save a life? Perhaps. Regardless, this serves as a lesson, especially as a teacher who works with teenagers and adolescents, who as we often forget are going through some of the toughest and most tumultuous moments of their young lives, so full of angst and uncertainty…..the lesson being that you never really know what effects the smallest of words and most seemingly benign conversations can have.
I suppose we should all keep that in mind as we move forward. That small smile that you offer to the person who scowls back, or kind words to the person in your office who isn’t the nicest individual to engage with, or to that person with the frown on the train as you head home…maybe that small gesture will change their path, or their plans.
I find myself humbled this evening, and happy that I was able to help someone in need. The wildest fact of this whole situation for myself? This person I have never met. A virtual friend, whom I’ve never physically met face to face. How crazy is that? The world has changed so dynamically. This will be an evening of long thoughts, and whirling wheels. Be well all!