My mind builds stories and details out of the most insignificant snippets of information sometimes. My nature is to empathize, so I turn facts into stories with which I empathize. Maybe sometimes the stories I see are true. Often, I never find out.
Let me give you an example. I was listening in on a conversation among friends on Saturday. A friend said, "I might just have two new motorcycles! A friend just called, and he knows somebody whose husband just died. She just wants all of the stuff out of the garage, so he's going to empty it out for her and get a bunch of motorcycles for free. He said he might give me a couple of them."
Several people were intrigued by the story. A garage full of free stuff! "Why don't you just head over there with a van, see what you can find?"
"Oh if it were somebody I knew, I'd totally go over and loot. I'd head over there tonight! But she's just a friend of a friend...."
The conversation continued along those lines, talk of looting through the garage, speculation about what other treasures might be buried in there.
Let me reiterate, because it caught my attention. Everyone involved in the conversation heard the initial story, and they thought, "Cool, free motorcycles!" Or at least that's all they voiced.
I remained still and listened silently. Because what I thought on hearing the story was, "Oh... a woman has lost her husband."
My mind fixated on her story, the Motorcycle Widow I named her. I guess my mind just works different than others', wanders in peculiar directions.
As the excited gear and looting talk continued, I found that - if i were me - I couldn't imagine taking one of these items without at least making an effort to give her some money, some help, something.
It didn't seem right, that I should benefit from her tragedy, however indirectly.
All day, even the next day, my mind kept coming back to her, my Motorcycle Widow. I wondered about her story. Are the funeral expenses large? Does she have family to help her out?
How long had they been married? What sort of vacations did they take together? How did he die, was he alone, and can she still sleep only on her side of the bed?
I imagined this grieving woman, staring at a garage full of toys loved by her love. Just wanting them to be gone, gone, she didn't care how. Turning her back, unable to look.
But will she miss them, someday in the future when she misses him more? Will she regret giving away so much, someday if she has medical or financial problems to face alone?
Who will stay to help her pick up the pieces of her shattered life? Or will everyone simply grab a motorcycle and run off to play?
This is what I do. I don't criticize; there is no reason to, and this is actually none of my business. I just listen. I stand on the fringes of conversations and listen to the storyteller inside my head. Maybe the stories are just made-up. But they bear a certain poignancy and a certain reality.
I may be on the outside of a gathering sometimes, but my heart is often deep in your center. The stories I hear are raw, and they help me see more of life - in all its pain and splendor.