Lives Lived

I took a trip this weekend with a friend of mine.  She was going to the retirement party for an influential college professor from her undergraduate days.  I was along for the ride and to keep her company during the trip.  We had a fair amount of time to talk (driving in a car has a tendency to give you that) and I learned reams about her that I didn’t know before.

I’ve always known her as a very, very bright (impressively so), technologically oriented scientist. What I didn’t know was the path she took to get there.  Actually, while I say path, the reality was that roads had ended and there was no path.  She created a path through obstacles that would have each thwarted lesser motivated, lesser determined people.  In doing so, she became the person I’ve known, and yet the one who hides scars and wounds and damage that most won’t ever see or guess.

During the trip we visited her childhood best friend, one that has been friends with her through all of this.  Down bucolic tree-lined old-style streets we drove until we arrived at a quaint 1920’s bungalow with the biggest, most magnificent ginkgo tree I’ve ever seen.  Her friend, as it turns out, is taking care of a parent who is slowly and painfully dying mentally and physically.  It was a scene of caring, of compassion, of struggle that I have not been witness to in recent years.  My friend helps out where she can, emotionally and financially, despite her own continued problems and challenges.  A friendship of that many years does, I suspect, lends itself to that but it still takes intentionality and commitment.

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It struck me how little we know of the struggles that others have gone through, or are going through. It has made me grateful for what I have in a way I haven’t been for a while. Despite what I view/viewed as a life ending divorce and apparent estrangement from progeny, despite never having had a plan or a goal in life–I’ve had it very easy compared to many and done well despite myself.  Too often I fail to appreciate the good, and over emphasize the bad. And while I have become better at giving, at sharing, at empathizing, I could do better. I think, sometimes, that if I can’t give as much as I think I should, I shouldn’t bother.  It’s a perfectionist trap because it creates a lose-lose situation.  What I need to do is continue to slowly stretch the giving muscles, gradually build the overcoming tendons, build the life-endurance strength in me.

Maybe this trip will help me help my friend when she needs it. And whoever else I see that needs help.  Thank God for the eye-opening of the trip.

 

 

 

 

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by hmunro on October 17, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    What a wonderful post, Jeff. You’re so right that it’s difficult to imagine others’ struggles, especially when our own seem overwhelming. I hope the lessons and memories of this trip will help you continue to grow and stretch (though from what I know of you, you already seem like a pretty wonderful guy). My best to you and your friend!

    Reply

  2. […] second was more recent.  My friend from my recent road trip,  without any reason, gave me a gift.  It was a unexpected, and a unique gift for me; it was the […]

    Reply

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