The People-Mover

I’ve always maintained that people need people. There’s a reason isolation has been a torturer’s go-to for centuries, and mental and emotional isolation are no less damaging than physical. So I maintain that people need people.

We need people to hear us. We need people to soak us in, mull us around, and give us back to ourselves a little less broken than we started.

As much as we pine over leaving our marks on the world, that which we desire more than anything is to be marked by others. I don’t want bruises, purple and blue, or gashes, red and gushing. But I want scars, crisscrossing and dancing over my skin, a pattern unique to me alone, a story that only I can read, but that everyone should see. I want you to see my scars, know their worth, and ask for their stories. When you notice my fears, ask me why I’m afraid. When you notice my ghosts, ask me their names. When you notice my drive, ask me my dreams. And when you notice my scars, please ask me what they mean.

And hear me when I answer. Hear me and give me your bandages, your remedies, your sympathies. Give of yourself to me, and I will give of myself to you, and at the end of it all, we will each have grown in a very small, very big, very real way.

I have always known the power of words. A tender tongue and a sharp one don’t share much, but in wielding either you accept a great deal of responsibility. The ability to communicate is a wonderful thing, but we mustn’t forget its duality as both a blessing and a curse. With a soft word here and smile there, we can uplift a trampled soul, brush it off, and send it on its way to better days. Replace that soft word with a harsh one and that smile with a rolled eye, and we can just as easily nudge someone over an edge they’d been courting for days, months, years. And that might be the end of it. We cannot know the contents of another person’s mind, so it is always best to tread carefully.

I write in the hope that I will be heard, but also in the hope that I will learn to hear. To really hear, I cannot be a mere sounding board, or an empty vessel into which you might pour your confessions. I must instead practice a conversational elasticity that is seldom seen nowadays. I must absorb, digest, interpret, and respond. I must take what burdens you have to give, and invite you to step into that vacated space, and so move forward. I must move people. I must do better, and so must you, and together, we can create a more connected, more empathetic, more beautiful world. Together, we can move people. Together, we can move the world.

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