Plus One –
When I attend a lecture-luncheon I look for two things when choosing my seat. The first is a seat at the edge of a table which helps with my claustrophobia and the second is the middle to back of the room. If I need to get up for any reason I don’t want to block people’s view of the speaker or meander around a bunch of tables to get to my destination.
Today, while attending one of these lecture-luncheons, a woman arrived late picked up a box lunch, and proceeded to find a seat at the back of the room only to spot a friend and then zigzagged around the other attendees, dropping her box lunch in the process, and finally settling at the table closest to the front of the room. She couldn’t have been more of a distraction if she tried! Finding a familiar face was worth the risk.
After all, isn’t that what all of us are seeking? To discover we are not alone.
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Yesterday I told someone about an experience in my life that happened several years ago. They were looking for an example of a certain subject and I had it. As I relayed to them the story you could tell they were surprised but also relieved that someone else had a similar experience that impacted their life. The basic question from the other person was; “Can good rise from bad? Is there a way to navigate a negative part of our journey that will ultimately lead to something positive?” What was interesting is that I didn’t answer their question and they didn’t seem to notice. I’m still waiting for the good, the positive to be revealed from my negative experience. However, what was more important to the person was not what resulted but that I made it through. This gave them hope.
Too often, when going through chaotic times of life we wonder; “Is there a rhyme or reason?” Then we meet someone who’s been through something similar and we are comforted simply by knowing someone who has survived. At first, we want to know how it all ends but we quickly understand each experience no matter how similar is different for everyone with incalculable resolutions. Our deepest desire is to know we are not alone, to believe if another made it through then maybe we can also.
Not Alone –
He sat alone in the classroom today, save the examiner, and took his High School Equivalency exam. I sat alone watching him think, strain to recall what he had been taught over the past months. My class for incarcerated fathers was scheduled to begin but this lone test taker was holding us up. That was okay. What he was doing was as important as what we do in our class. We strive to make men good and into good fathers. He was taking a test that would better him and his family. He sat there with no one around him but I knew he wasn’t alone. Good thoughts, prayers, and best wishes were being sent his way by those who had tutored, encouraged and convinced him he could be more, do more and his life wasn’t a throwaway. I knew he was nervous by the way he checked and rechecked his answers, glancing up at the clock which ticked away his test time.
Finally, he finished and hesitantly handed in his exam. A few words to the examiner and he exited the classroom. “How’d it go?” I asked. “I hope good,” was his answer. We chatted a few moments and then he went back to his cell. As he exited the door I knew the hopes and dreams of not just him were wrapped up in that test. I also knew he wasn’t alone and sometimes that’s enough to give us the courage to do what we wouldn’t ever do otherwise.