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halves, hearts, and questions

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” ~Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Sometimes we forget how fragile people are. How every person is carrying around at least one thing he wishes he wasn’t. How, sometimes, we can’t get rid of the pain or the fear – and so, we try to run. Or push people away. Or just hide.

There’s something to be said for emotional evolution – recognizing a problem or pattern, knowing when to stay and when to go (and why). Knowing when to reach out and when not to. In some cases, it’s a constant dance –something constantly weighed and measured.

Yesterday, someone asked me a question about why I do something. And it was one of those head-tilt moments where the world stops and everything narrows as you think. It was a simple, small, ordinary question. The answer was deceptively simple: I care. Isn’t that the motivation for most things? I’d like to think so.

But let’s face it: we live in a cynical, stupid, often heartbreaking world. We live in a place where things happen that shouldn’t. Everybody’s always got an angle, right? Everybody wants something. It’s so easy to get jaded and wary. Because hearts break the way ice cracks: small, almost unseen – until it spreads. And we’re never quite the same after that. You can’t be. I can’t be. You live through something, anything, and it changes you. For better or worse.

So, yesterday, when I was asked the question of why, the answer was simple. But it was like a domino effect. I started to wonder why I care. Because I’m a person who jumps in, reaches out, asks the questions, make the first move, and whatever. I, as a general rule, like people – until proven otherwise. I don’t know how not to. It’s part of who I am. But it never really occurred to me that it might be odd – that there was the possibility someone might be taken aback by it.

For this, I think, you can blame my mother. Like her, I’d rather give something than get something. I’d rather run the risk of looking like a fool than play it safe as kittens. She spent a lifetime – her lifetime – caring about other people. Looking after them. And let’s face it: if you cross my path, physically or on the world wide web, I’m probably going to try and take care of you at some point. I’m going to ask if you’re having a bad day. I’m going to check on you.

Because I care. Because the world can be a dark place, so why not make it brighter? That is how I want to spend my time: lighting up days, singing in the grocery store, and stopping to hug basically every animal I see.

I can’t see the point of holding back. Or saving face. Or not trying, even in unusual circumstances. To hell with how it looks or how it might seem. To hell with playing it safe. Play it safe when you’re 98 and you have to – not while there’s a chance something good or magical might happen. Not while there’s a glimmer of adventure. Not while there’s potential. Don’t waste it. Don’t let it sit and rot, darlings.

To be honest, I felt a little sad after being asked that question. It could’ve innocuous, I can’t really say. Thinking about it, I felt a little embarrassed for a second. Like, maybe, I’d done something asinine. Like maybe it was bizarre and I too big of a clod to realize it. But, no. That’s just insecurity rearing its big ol’ dragon head.

What kills us, darlings, isn’t embarrassment. It’s not trying and failing – it’s not even getting back up. No, it’s holding things in and living too neatly, conveniently. It’s giving a damn and not showing it – or not showing it enough. It’s always doing things with expectation, not for the sake of the act itself.

Do yourself a favor, okay? Step up. Step into the room. Step into the unknown. Step outside of your comfort zone. And don’t look back.

It might be scary. It might be hard. But all the good things are, loves.

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