The girl trudged through the store dully, The Great Heaviness upon her.
She thought it a great mystery of life…that you can walk invisible through this world. That you can seem to be here…but you're not. Not really. You’re invisible.
She watched smiling faces exchange holiday greetings, and she listened to laughing voices trade holiday stories:
“I tried a new recipe…it was aMAHzing…”
“I’ll tell you where my sister found 'em. Believe or not she found them at Walgreens.”
“OHMYGAWD MY KIDS…”
She watched it all from a faraway place, a place deep, deep within. She never understood why people called it “on the outside looking in,” because the truth was – her truth, anyway, and others like her – the truth was that what it feels like is that you are inside…way…way…way inside…looking OUT.
Out at world that you cannot feel or be a part of.
OF COURSE she seemed to be present. She said words, like everybody else. To the barista, “Doin’ good. You?” To the cashier, “Didya have a good Thanksgiving?” She raised her hand in a cheerful wave to acquaintances as she moved through the aisles.
But the REAL her remained invisible.
She was in the parking lot, loading groceries into her car when a man behind her called out,
“Here. Let me take that for you.”
She turned her head slowly -- she was always slower on the hard days -- to see the man reaching for her cart.
He was holding a single small bag of groceries, his shopping complete, so it took a half-second for her to realize that he didn’t need her cart to shop. He was just offering to return it to the cart corral.
He held her gaze, gently, just for a moment, then smiled and said, “I’ll put it back for you. It’s on my way.”
He took her cart swiftly and moved on, a light spring in his step.
As she called out her thanks to his retreating back, a soft feeling crept over her.
When the man made direct eye contact with her and smiled, time seemed to stand still. And in that moment, she had felt…she felt…
It made no sense at all, but in that moment the sorrowful voices in her head fell silent, and the ache in her heart subsided to a dull thud-thud. And she had felt The Great Heaviness shift…lift…just a bit.
It made no sense at all.
She glanced, instinctively, up at the sky. The needles on the tall southern pines were shimmying in a slight breeze. The trees seemed to lean in, lean down, as if to look more closely at her upturned face.
And for the second time that day, in a way she could not explain, she felt
The girl climbed into her car and began to cry. But not in a bad way. In a relieved way.
It made no sense...but whatever had just happened, it was enough. Enough to get her up, get her going, get her moving back through her day...
If you are feeling full of the Holiday Spirit today, I am happy for you! But you need to know something. You need to know that there are invisible people in your world. They’re all around you, and you don’t even KNOW. They’re smiling in your face, and you don’t even SEE. And that’s not because you’re bad, it’s because they’ve become adept at showing you the face they think you want to see. They keep the other part...you know…invisible.
The greatest gift you can give them on their hard days is just to let them know that they are SEEN. And you do that by the smallest MOST GENUINE acts you can think of. Like returning a grocery cart. Or saying something small and kind that DOESN’T make them lie about how good things are.
Maybe it's grief. Maybe it's regret. Maybe it's depression. Maybe THEY KNOW they "should" be happy and THEY KNOW that “compared to some people” they are blessed...Maybe THEY DON'T KNOW WHY EVERYTHING IS SO DAMN HARD FOR THEM AND WHY THEY CAN'T BE THE LAUGHING PEOPLE SOMETIMES TOO.
And NO, you are not going to forever fix all their problems by returning their grocery carts to the cart corral – but a forever fix is not what they need from you. They’re working on their pain, it’s going to take some time, and they know that. All they need from you, really, is just to be
Just as they are. And to somehow feel that "just as they are" is A-okay with you.
How will you find them? The ones that need to be seen? Use your gut. Follow those nudges you get. But most of all, my friends, you're gonna have to SLOW DOWN and make kind eye contact with the people in your world. YOU CAN'T SEE THEM IF YOU DON'T LOOK.
NOW ALSO LISTEN.
If The Great Heaviness is upon YOU today, my friend, I tell you truly, you are not alone. Your brothers and sisters of The Great Heaviness Brigade move through this world with you, though we all have become quite skilled in the art of invisibility. And if The Great Heaviness is upon you today, I ask YOU to do the same thing I am asking THE HAPPY PEOPLE to do:
Reach out to a brother or sister and make sure he or she feels
It will help you both.