“Let us be kind, to one another, for most of us are fighting a hard battle.” – Ian MacLaren *
When I was younger and my family would go on long drives, I’d spend a lot of time staring out the window at the other cars. I’d think about how many cars I was seeing, and the fact that inside each of those cars was at least one other person. That other person, like me, was living their own life, having their own problems, and thinking their own thoughts. The sheer amount of individuality and complexity of the idea was staggering to me, and still is when I really stop to focus on it. We are surrounded by the complexity of humanity, and it’s a struggle to imagine it accurately.
The quote at the top of this entry* is something that came to mind when I thought about this weekend, and about my experience so far on Team NutriBullet. Being on a team, or a part of any group that is focused on a similar goal, is a good way to really see the value of that mindset in action. On my team, we have people who are dealing with chronic health problems. People who have had their abilities drastically change due to accidents and injury. People who have recently had children. People who are having marriage difficulties, work troubles, deaths in the family, and on, and on, and on.
Every one of us is fighting through something, whether inwardly or outwardly. And that “something” necessarily influences our actions and our abilities, whether outward observers know that it does or not. When that “something” isn’t necessarily visible, it’s all too easy to slip into judgment of someone’s words or action, without realizing that they are doing their best – just like you.
Which is why it’s so nice to be a part of something like Team NutriBullet, where we are all reaching for such a big goal that we need to reach out to each other for support to make it. To be in a place where we trust that we are all doing our best gives us all the room to imagine each other complexly, and to see that we are all working as hard as we each can to be the best we can be.
We ran our first race as a team this weekend, the Calabasas Classic 5k. It was really fun, partly because I love racing, but also because it was exciting to be surrounded by teammates who supported every single team member from the one who got second place overall, to the one who finished his first race since an accident left him in a wheelchair. While we were standing at the starting line, Michael, a teammate, tapped me on the shoulder.
“You look nervous,” he said. “I can see it in your face. Just relax. I believe in you, and we believe in you, and you’re going to do great.”
It was exactly what I needed in that moment. I’m pretty shy, and not great about speaking up and reaching out to others, but Michael inspired me to try more to remember that everyone is fighting as hard as they can, and it never hurts to reach out and help them along in whatever way you can.
Imagining people complexly is hard. And sometimes, when I’m going through my own shit, it feels like maybe it’s not worth the effort. It’s so easy to rest in a lack of imagination and empathy. It’s funny, when you tell someone about something big in your life, sometimes people respond with “Oh man, I could never deal with that. I don’t know how you do it.” I mostly find it funny, because that’s exactly what people say when I tell them I’m running a marathon in February.
I do it the same way you do, the same way we all do. We get back up off the ground, we keep breathing, we keep putting one foot in front of the other (or we keep our wheels rolling), and we survive it together. It’s hard to reach out when you’re wrapped up on your own battle. But I’ve been realizing over the past several weeks that it’s so very worth it.
*Not who you usually see this quote attributed to? Click on the link and you’ll be taken to a blog that traces famous quotes back to their sources. I usually try to check out famous quotes there first, to make sure I’m not perpetuating too much misunderstanding.