Lunchtime Ramblings #1

On doing more with our time and realizing I’m not a hero.

People tend to spend their lunch breaks in different ways. Some people will nearly always go out with co-workers, enjoying the stories of the day, conversing about the latest news or gossip. I’m not one of those people. Other’s will go for a walk to soak up a little sunlight, clear their mind after a hectic morning, and get a little exercise. I am not one of those people either. No, I’m the kind of person who typically spends my lunch break pretty much the same way I spend the rest of my time, hunched over in front of my MacBook either working through my lunch break or mindlessly surfing the net until I’m in a zoned-out cyber-haze that’s difficult to shake off. I’ve come to realize that neither of those two options is particularly good for me. And though the best thing for me to do would probably involve me getting off my computer and going for a walk, realistically that probably won’t happen. So I’ve decided to try something new.

Starting today, and (hopefully) for each workday ahead of me in the foreseeable future, I will attempt to write. Now, it’s at this point in today’s “Lunchtime Rambling” as I will call them, that I should probably pull out all the possible disclaimers that I may need so here goes:

What you are about to read is not written by a professional anything (unless you count programming, which is arguably a profession). Do not expect anything insightful, profound, or otherwise of any redeeming value. Any resemblance between the words below and actual insight or wisdom is purely coincidental. Consult a physician if you experience dizziness, nausea, or uncontrollable facepalming while reading this.

Okay, you have been warned. Now on with the rambling.

So, I just received a text from a dear friend that her uncle is in the hospital. He had a stroke. My friend and her family are visiting him right now. So although the tone of this rambling has been fairly lighthearted up until now, I’m now feeling very concerned for my friend and her family. I will spend the remainder of this rambling thinking about her.

It’s always hard when someone presents you with bad news. The typical response of “I’m sorry” never seems to really convey what you really want to say. To me, when confronted with bad news, the words “I’m sorry” are as much applicable to myself as they are to the person I’m saying it to. “I’m sorry” means, “I wish I could do something to help you, to relieve you of this burden, but I am powerless. I’m sorry”. It means, “I wish I had something comforting or helpful to say to you right now, but I am sorely lacking in the wisdom or ability to really do so. I’m sorry”. It can also mean “I would do absolutely anything to be there with you right now, to give you a hug, and try my best to be a source of strength and encouragment to you. But unfortunately I am bound by work, or some other obligation. I’m sorry”.

So, I responded to my friend with the typical “I’m sorry.” I know that she understands I would do anything for her or for her family. I know that she realizes that had I not been stuck at work, I would be right there with her. I know that she knows I’m always there for her. But at this moment, I feel powerless. I wish I had the power to magically heal her uncle, and take away the suffering she feels. I wish I had something truly comforting to say to her that would ease her anxiety. But I know that there’s really nothing I can do at this moment to help. This is true powerlessness. When you can observe something bad happening and you can’t do a damn thing to stop it or to take away the pain that it will inevitably cause. We all like to think of ourselves as the “hero” in a story, but in reality we are all just the panicked, scared, helpless bystanders, trying our best to survive the onslaughts of terror and horror that life throws our way. I suppose there’s some comfort in knowing that everyone else is really just as terrified and lost as we are. There’s a sense of community in knowing that “we’re all in this together.” I hope that if anything, this is what my friend took away from my meager words to her this afternoon. That although, I wish I could be the hero, I’m happy to be a fellow bystander with her, and that we can be scared and lost and angry and sorrowful together. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world, except for maybe the power to actually change something.

Well, I’m just about out of time on my lunch break and it’s time for me to get back to work. I hope you at least tolerated reading through my rambling. Hopefully there will be more to come soon.