TL;DR: In my last (somewhat dour) post I talked about wanting to go the extra mile for people, just in case they are having a hard time and really need it. But, truthfully, there is another reason that I am usually eager to help out. I get preeetty sizeable bursts of joy from helping those I love, and I love preeetty much everyone, ever. Seriously, I’m like the dog from “Up.” It is strange, and very awkward, but you kind of… get used to it?
I love my pharmacist. I mean, I genuinely love him.
A few years ago I had a health issue that wrought havoc with my sleep. I was getting only a couple of hours a night. I was (somewhat irrationally) terrified of getting addicted to sleeping pills, so I wouldn’t touch them. This went on for months, and I started to go completely bananas.
In the end, I had to give in. My doctor very astutely pointed out that this was not resolving on its own, and that there was no more time left to wait around and see if it would. I needed to sleep, like, riiiiiight now.
So I wandered into Shopper’s, clutching my prescription and feeling utterly defeated. My bloodshot eyes were so sunken, and had such dark circles around them, that I looked more like a Hallowe’en decoration than an actual person. My hair looked like it had already died, and was just waiting for the rest of me to follow.
I stepped up to the counter and handed the pharmacist the wrinkled paper. He read it, and looked me over, and said, “Need to get some sleep, huh?”
That’s all it took. Six words to acknowledge all of my anguish, and convey sincere empathy for my situation. Six words to recognize me as a fellow human being in pain, and wish me relief. Six words to say everything that needed to be said.
And that was it. I loved him.
Now, a lot of people would argue that that’s not real love. It was a single interaction, and it was six stupid words. There was no followup, we aren’t best friends now. And it’s not like I pine for him from afar, wishing we could someday be more than we currently are. So how is that love?
Ok, fine, I guess that’s a fair question.
And here is where I think I lose most people, because I think I feel things a little differently from the mainstream population.
I know that I love my Brother Alex, and my Parents, and my roommate James. I think about them during my daily goings on. I hope they are well. I worry they might be unhappy. And I dwell, with feelings of affection and appreciation, on the sweet, or brilliant, or generous, or hysterical, or fascinating ways they have made my world better. I daydream about little things I could do to make them happy, even if only for a minute or two.
But, see, here’s the kicker. I have those same thoughts, and worries, and affections when I think about my pharmacist. Or when I remember Beth taking fifteen minutes out of her lunch break to go all the way through the tunnels to her locker, just to get me some Advil for my headache. Or when I imagine Mackenzie spending a sunny day picking rocks from her fields on her farm back home.
So why shouldn’t I call that love? I mean, of course I love Alex more, but can I not love them too? If I love my dog most because she almost never destroys all my favourite things and throws up on the futon, can I not love my cats too?
Now, here is where some people might interject that, while I might have the warm and fuzzies for these people, it’s not really love. Because I’d do a hell of a lot more for my family than I would for my pharmacist, right?
Well, you’re right that I’ve spent two hours cleaning the bathroom when Alex couldn’t lift the lid fast enough to puke in the toilet instead of on it. You’re right that I drove ten hours round-trip with him to help our friend move. You’re right that I sat with him at the hospital for hours while they tried to figure out how long they could wait to perform the surgery on his shattered arm. I wouldn’t do that kind of stuff for my stranger of a pharmacist, would I?
And here’s where, if I didn’t lose you before, I probably will now. Because the answer is that yes, I really would.
Also, let me be clear, I am not saying this makes me a “good person,” whatever the fuck that is… My motives for doing nice things for others are ultimately selfish. I am always in it for the vicarious happies.
What I am saying is, if you are someone for whom I’ve developed this peculiar affection, your happiness and wellbeing make me happy. It’s that simple. I just want to make you feel better.
For real. I’m not doing it to get anything in return. I’m not doing it so that you’ll owe me. I’m not doing it to elicit your affection, and especially not your approval. You never have to love me/pay me/get me back.
The niceness in itself is its own reward, even if it is awkward and often misinterpreted.
So just take the ride I am offering when it is pouring outside. I don’t care f I live in the opposite direction, I am happy to keep you dry. Just take the banana and granola bar I’m offering, you just freaking said you were starving.
Or, I mean, don’t. I’m here to help, not to impose, so don’t take it if you don’t want it. It’s cool if you say no. I still love you.