My friend Dan will be talking to me about some random stranger he met and the crazy story of their life and he will just pause and thoughtfully say “People are amazing.” Then he will take a sip of his Jack and Ginger because that is how Dan rolls.
Anyway, I really really enjoy this phrase.
It’s a cute little tag that’s pretty optimistic about the way individuals live their lives. Dan always tacks it on to a story about someone handling some Big Insurmountable Obstacle in a really awesome way. Or he’ll say it about some random lady walking by with a rainbow colored hat on her head. Either one, you know? It’s a universal statement.
It reminds me of that Plato quote which no one can be sure is really Plato but it is:
As in, let’s just give everyone the benefit of the doubt because we’re never really sure what people are struggling with. I think of this a lot in New York City when everyone freaking GETS IN MY WAY ALL THE TIME DEAR LORD IN HEAVEN MOOOOVE.
I think oh, maybe that man is rushing to the hospital because his wife is going to give birth to triplets!
Or, maybe that girl shoved me out of the way because she’s allergic to bees and she just got stung by one though that’s almost impossible down on the subway platform but hey you never know, RIGHT?
I think of both the Plato quote and the PEOPLE ARE AMAZING quote a lot, particularly when my parents talk about difficult things they’ve gone through. Because they’re on the other side of a lot of things now, they always seem so nonchalant when they talk about hard stuff. Like when my dad randomly told me a story recently of being in the army and his plane was running out of gas and how they had to drop down into Saigon in the MIDDLE OF THE VIETNAM WAR to refuel because there was nothing else to do and they shut the lights off on the plane and everything went silent and peeps were all HMM I WONDER IF WE SHALL DIE HERE IN ENEMY TERRITORY.
My dad has wonderfully uplifting stories, you guys.
(Actually he does because no one died and he went on to meet my mom and have me, the most perfect daughter in history, so…)
Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was hanging out with a bunch of children and their moms who I didn’t know very well and I was sort of standing around mentally singing some showtunes in my head when I overheard one mother ask another if she planned on having more children.
Now, this is a very rude personal thing to say to anyone though I do believe people always mean well. Regardless, I kind of bristled like WOAH BACK UP LADY but the other mom just shrugged and said “Oh, I don’t think so! It took us six years to have her!” and pointed to her daughter.
Just as easy as can be.
Oh, you know! Six heartbreaking years of infertility!
The other mother pressed on, “But I hear it’s easier the second time around maybe?”
“Maybe!” said the other mom brightly. “But we are all set with her! She was actually a twin. The other baby didn’t make it so…we are just very, very lucky to have her!”
This woman was just so polite and open about it and I just thought WOW. People are AMAZING.
People are landing planes in enemy territory, people are miscarrying babies, my God, you know, this world is so sad sometimes. And so scary.
And yet, people seem to power through. It sucks and it’s hard but so many of us seem able, finally, after trying so hard, to get to the other side. The place where we can just tell our daughter a story about the army and say “EH, IT WASN’T SO BAD REALLY” or we can point to our child, playing happily with her friends and truthfully say “We are so lucky to have her!”
I think we are lucky to have each other mostly. No one ever really knows what someone else is struggling with, how they really feel or what thoughts race through their mind.
But sometimes I get a glimpse.
And it comforts me.
I feel connected and humbled.
People are amazing.