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Specific People

November 3, 2018

It will surprise some of my readers and none of my friends when I say that I don’t like people very much.  Specific people I like a lot but as for your average generic human…not so much.  People are messy.  They throw off your schedule.  They’re unpredictable.  They expect reciprocal playdates.  Two events yesterday reminded me the power of the point at which average and generic become specific.

The first of these involved my work with elders.  My companion for the morning was a woman I had not met before.  This woman had juvenile diabetes and kidney disease. Her life revolved around dialysis.  She had seven siblings all of whom had died of similar maladies, the most recent merely 3 weeks before I met her.  One of her toes had been recently amputated.  She also had beautiful skin, smelled wonderful, and was carefully and stylishly dressed in a jean jacket and the most outrageous black wig I have ever seen.  You know what this wonderful lady was worried about?  The ten bucks of my own money I had spent on valet parking.  She was concerned about me.  That puts life in perspective, no?  She’s certainly not average or generic anymore.  She’s a specific person that I like a ton.

Later that day I went to the gym.   I did a group class I had done before, Tabata, in which you do impossible things for 20 seconds and rest for 10, over and over for 45 minutes.  It’s lovely, and I highly recommend it for people who love torture.  So anyway, I’m panting my way through the final 10 minutes when the instructor says that the last group of exercises will be tandem, that is, with a partner.  Now I’m the kind of gym-goer who hates, hates! interacting with others while exercising.  I will exercise next to other people, but god help me if I should have look at them or make conversation.  Remember I don’t like people much.  The instructor paired me up with a woman who, I had noticed out of the corner of my eye, was in sick shape and was absolutely killing this class.  The girl could out-burpee me six ways to Sunday.  I had never met her, but now we were going to share our sweaty pain.

Reader, this generic, average person instantly became specific.  She encouraged me when I didn’t want to do one single more squat jump.  She put her hand on my shoulder and I put mine on hers while we trembled through plank position, all the while talking about how many kids we had and how we both had to go take care of them after class.  We touched each other’s sweat and high-fived at the end.  I like her a ton.

Our current world would be transformed if we could make a few more generic humans into specific ones.

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