Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle

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A plea to pay closer attention

Not long ago I visited with someone I’ve known for two-thirds of my life.

Circumstances have put us together maybe twice a year. Through the decades our brief interactions have consisted of pleasant, superficial small talk.

Until this time.

Dinner, a few glasses of wine, and a couple of innocent questions later and, suddenly, I found myself smack dab in the path of an emotional hurricane. Churning sadness (disguised as anger). Tidal waves of raw pain. A whole lifetime of rejection loosed in a gale of fast, fierce words.

“There’s a drama behind every face,” a friend of mine once told me.

“Be kind,” Ian Maclaren urged, “For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

I sat wide-eyed, picking at my shrimp, listening to stories I’d never heard — of a confused young person fighting to make sense of senseless things, of a confused older person wrestling with way more questions than answers.

When we went our separate ways, I was left with a couple questions of my own:

  1. All those years and all those interactions…how could I have missed such big things?
  2. Would it kill me to be a little kinder?
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