Does life ever hit you with something just out of the clear-blue sky? Something so unusual, so unexpected that it would have been crazy to even imagine it happening? Well, I had a day with a few of these things in it last week.
The biggest of which was a cryptic e-mail from my past.
Last Tuesday I e-mailed an old friend (actually he was an old boyfriend) to ask a few questions about technical things that he knows way more about than I do. We e-mailed back and forth throughout the day and it was very … what’s the right word? Technical. Humorless. Antiseptic. Yeah, it was antiseptic.
The e-mailing ended early in the afternoon with me thanking him for all of the (antiseptic) information. And I figured that it would be another few years before we would interact again – like last time. And I also figured that we would only interact again if I contacted him for technical reasons. Cause, that’s sort of how it has gone for the last…um…decade.
But last Wednesday I opened my Hotmail and found an e-mail from him. I figured it was more technical info – maybe he had left something out. What I found instead was a highly personal and somewhat cryptic message that made me panic a little bit.
Maybe I panicked because it was cryptic. Maybe because it was suddenly the opposite of antiseptic. I was deep and heart-felt and full of, well I think remorse. It was almost like an apology. Maybe even a compliment – but still, cryptic. And there is a lot of pain in the past for me and this man. So it was a huge shock to get anything heartfelt from him – even if the feeling was pain or remorse. Maybe especially if.
So, I responded with thanks and let him know that I was a little confused and I tried to encourage him a bit because his message sounded like he was struggling a bit.
I sent the message out into the vastness of the Internet thinking it would land in his inbox and that I would never hear from him again. At least not for another few years if I were to contact him for technical reasons.
But then, about 10 minutes later, he responded. Apparently, after we spoke he read my blog – or at least parts of it and it really affected him. Here are a few highlights from his e-mail:
:I just wanted to let you know at least one of your little random moments in life turned out to be a bigger deal for someone than you ever intended.”
“I just thought you should know I think you’re a special person. Most of the people in my life are just following the crowd, and aren’t trying to make any waves. You’ve never once followed the crowd, and it is something to be admired.”
“Right now, I’m finding out it’s very difficult to strike out ahead of the crowd from the middle. I’ve built a life based on comfortable mediocrity…that’s what I’m working hard to fix right now.”
“I know you will do great things because you still have passion. You refuse to accept the middle. I didn’t know you had held onto that part of yourself until I read your blog. I’m glad for you.”
Talk about a compliment – and a shock. And I didn’t respond with much more than a thank you when I read this, but there is a lot more to the story – at least my side of it. After reading what he wrote and realizing what he thought about me I felt like I should tell him that my passion to overcome mediocrity is newly re-discovered.
The truth is I was lazy and stuck in the middle myself until recently. After being in the work force for a couple of years I was pretty beaten down by the government and the corporate machine. And I was actually having conversations in my mind trying to convince myself that mediocrity was a good thing to shoot for. Something comfortable to grow accustomed to and enjoy.
I let myself get lazy because of all the opposition I was facing. I became disheartened. Yeah, that’s the perfect word. Disheartened.
For a couple of years I was operating in that vein and I was miserable inside and outside of work. Learning and trying to accept the limitations that really existed for me in society and the limitations that everyone was trying to put on me was affecting every part of my life.
I didn’t have a big, refreshing, life-changing moment that turned everything around suddenly. I wish that had been the case. But slowly, and painfully, I pulled myself out of that mire of mediocre thinking. One thing that has probably contributed the most to my reawakened passion is that I found a good counselor. I’ve tried counseling before and not done very well with it.
The Christian counselors often threw Christian platitudes at me – which I was getting enough of in church or in my own religious studies. And I already knew them. If they were all that useful they would have worked by now. Avoid sin, work hard and don’t forget to tithe and you’ll be just fine. Learn to love Jesus and your life will be a cornucopia of beauty and wonder. Except, the truth is I have some real psychological wounds too.
The standard psychologists often ignored spirituality altogether. And the problem really is that my psychological wounds were making me soul-sick, but I needed more than the standard Christian line. Like I said, if that had been enough for me it would have worked it’s magic by then. Something needed to be reconciled.
Well, it is starting to come together now. Now I have an actual Psychological doctor who takes great care to tend to all aspects of who I am. Mind, spirit, past, present – all of it. And, the truth is that it’s still a struggle. And I have to talk myself out of accepting mediocrity on a regular basis, but I’m making big strides.
In fact, as some of you know I was in a practical state of nirvana last year before I was unexpectedly dumped. So, I guess this message is really for the ex-boyfriend, but I couldn’t bring myself to send him anything specific or personal. It felt unfaithful. He has a wife now. She can encourage him. And there is no more us when it comes to he and I. Taking things any further would have been too intimate. But I’m glad that passion is what he saw when he finally took a look at me after all of these years.