Anonymous Reader Question

Diana Ross at Studio 54
Diana Ross: credit

February 19, 2012

Question: "It takes so little to please you.  Why?"

Dear Anonymous,

This question, like a drum, has been pounding with each step I take.  A rhythm.  It's been weeks since you typed your question, here, and hit submit. When I read them, the words starred at me, stinging off the screen.  Hinting at the alternate choices surrounding me.

The answer didn't come and the tempo began to surge inside me.  The drum pounded as I waited to pay for my groceries.  It throbbed as I cheered my daughter on at softball try outs.  I pulsed in my chest as I ran around the block, banging on my cortex demanding an answer.  Why? Why? Why?  Why?

The answer came to me today.

I opened an email, it was a voice from the past.  An old college friend wrote, "I've got some sad news.  James took his life Sunday night.  I don't know any of the details but thought you'd want to know.  His funeral is Friday.  He was a good man."

My life crossed with James’s for just a minute.  A blip.  A summer, while I was a kid at college.  I’m not sure he’d even remember me.  I was just a friend of a friend but I remember him.  He did something for me I will never forget.  This news instantly brought me back to that clear memory I have of James.

One college summer, I was at a party.  The house was packed and the party began to escalate into confusion.  Even the air felt dangerous and I found myself being herded down the hall by a pack of boys.  Just as I knew I was in the wrong place at the wrong time James reached out and said, “You’re with me.” I remember those words.  He pulled me to the side and we crouched behind some furniture in the darkness and deafness of the music, waiting.  The room cleared and the party went back to normal.  We never spoke about that moment.  In fact, it wasn't until years later, with the clarity of adulthood that I realized what he had done for me.

A small thing.  A simple moment.  A moment that could have been so different for me.  A moment that James may not have remembered.  After that summer, our lives parted ways and here I am years later heartbroken over this terrible news.  It was a lifetime ago that James and I walked in the same circles, but that small act has crescendoed into something deeply profound for me.  And, it is the mantra which pulses the blood through my heart.  Life is about love.

The drum has shifted pace, it's thrumming to the pulse of what I have learned from James' life, from your question and from a conversation with another friend.  I called her on the phone.  We talked about James and she said, "Sometimes we don't recognize how valuable we are."

That is your answer, Anonymous.  That is why I am pleased with good little things.

"Sometimes we don't recognize how valuable we are."

People are valuable.  Mr. Scabs is valuable.  I am valuable.  The man/woman who hurt you is valuable.  And you, my Anonymous friend, you are valuable.

I love you.