May 27, 2021

Kind Rats

It is really hard to see the positive in a negative situation especially when you are smack dab in the middle of it. So, next time you feel entitled to tell people who are going through something hard or tough or dealing with a lot of negativity in their lives that they should "try and stay positive", please resist the urge to shalaye. Remember that the only reason you probably can say such words is most likely because you are not privy to the true depths of their pain. Yes, empathy is beautiful but don't be deceived, no two persons’ experiences are ever the same and semblances are most often humanistic illusions.

There is something I like to call the "God's eye view". Basically, it stems from the fact that it's easier to see the path out of a maze when you can see the entire maze from an elevated vantage point. However, imagine being a rat in that maze who can only see a few feet ahead. As humans, we are all rats in the maze of life (excuse the aspire to perspire lingo here!). Most of us can only see a few feet ahead and a lot of times the maze is often enveloped by the darkness of our fears and doubts and clouded by the fog of so many of life's uncertainties and so we often find ourselves bumping into walls, trees, stumps or stumbling over sticks and weeds, grazing our knees, falling flat on our faces and still trying to get up and find our way out of it. And trust me, even the very best of us with 2020 visions can still not see more than a few feet ahead of the rest, even when armed with the most optimistic mindsets.

So, please remember this. Commit it to memory if you must. Be reminded that instead of sitting atop your lofty "I had a similar experience so I know how you feel" mountain when someone you know or care about or love or even someone who might just be a mere acquaintance informs you about what they are going through, choose to be kind to them as opposed to repeating bland words straight out of a fortune cookie jar. Yes, words can be powerful but empty words are the exact opposite.

Thus, instead of telling people to "stay positive" as awesome as saying that may sound to you when you tell yourself in the mirror, I think it is better to just let them know that you will try to be there for them. Let them know that you very likely do not understand what they are going through but they can always count on getting a warm hug or a cold drink or a good laugh (that may or may not be a skit from Instagram or TikTok or YouTube) from you anytime they need one. Those small, almost inconsequential gestures will almost always beat a million aspire to perspire, "stay positive", rhetoric.

And the beauty of these seemingly small gestures is their inherent reciprocity. Nobody has ever given anyone a sincere hug that didn't feel hugged back just as sincere. No one has ever offered someone else a cold drink with a smile and not felt the relief of having one themselves. No one has ever tried to make another person laugh, genuinely, without cracking a smile as well.

Therefore, it is important to remember that even though the rat cannot see past a few feet in the maze, with another rat by its side, as a companion or friend or lover or family, etc, at least the task of figuring a way out of the maze wouldn't feel so lonesome and arduous. In fact, it could even be worth every stumble and fall and grazing of the knees.

I believe there is a famous saying about life being more about the journey and not the destination or some aspire to perspire shit...well, what's the fun in traveling alone when we can do it together. Be kind.