Over the years I've come to realize that most people are sharing the exact same story. Names, dates and places may be different, but the plot is the same. Loss or grief may have interrupted a person's particular story earlier or later than the next, but the stories carry many similarities. And as I continue to live my own personal story and journey, I am constantly reminded that I'm not alone. I never really thought I was alone or "special" in that regard, but I guess as the adage goes: 'you never stop learning'.
I met a lady who lost both of her parents when she was 9. She was the first person I spoke to on a bright Tuesday morning. It was 6:30 am and we were having coffee, juice and English muffins while waiting for our meal. She had a black Navy style pea coat that was just like mine but she had the waist belt thingee. Her parents left the house and never came back. And that was it. She had since been dealing with life from that point on. We were meeting on her 52nd birthday. Herself and her story were what I was starting my day with. And her 52nd birthday began with me. She probably got a few "happy birthday" texts from other people I'm sure. But the first human being she interacted with was me.
Once again, it was one of those moments where I felt like I had to keep paying it forward. Because not only for myself; for most people, there would be no words to assuage one's feelings. I've had enough terrible things happen in my own life that still make me cry from time to time. So this was also one of those moments when I chose not to eat. I kept my jacket on to muffle the sound of my stomach growling.
Too often we think that its only raining on us. Or rather, we become emotionally complacent to others. We forget that its a big world out there. And there are people in this world who deserve more than they've received. They haven't had a win yet, even though they've been suiting up for this game called "life" every day. They mentally and emotionally step up to the plate, but haven't hit a home-run. At least not yet. At the same time, even after a grand-slam comes "the slump". The "slump" is when a player just, for whatever reason, has no hits. It's just one of those things. Happens to everybody. It's so normal it has it's own name: "the slump". Can't stop it. Happens to everybdy.
I take great pain to be as respectful as I can with what people share with me. The amount of topics and stories I DON'T report on has now filled over half of a random, 70 page, MEAD wide-ruled spiral notebook. I write just one sentence detailing (for myself) the subject matter. That's it, because I'll never forget the person, place or moment. These people are black, white, Honduran-American, you name it. Old, young, disabled; you name it. And it was on the morning I was meeting this woman that I noticed what was ALSO taking place. I wasn't meeting people I wasn't going to (ever) interview. I was meeting people who wanted someone to talk to.
In the course of talking to people I can tell immediately if we'll have an interview, or not. I'll tell people straight up "sure" or "no". But these aren't the stories where people mind hearing "no". These aren't people who WANT to necessarily be interviewed. Some, not all, but some of these people have watched 'Good Morning Aurora' so they see how it flows. They know it's live. They know I ask personal and probing questions. And they can see the reason I do that is to understand my subject. But I've been meeting people in coffee shops, restaurants, Auto-Zone, garages; these people are different. These particular individuals have made me a stronger, more resilient person. Each time I have a conversation that ends with a hug, I feel stronger. I feel even more inspired to try to make life better for everybody. I'm honored that people look at me and think "that's a guy I can trust".
When I was young I remember seeing my Dad crying in his pillow. And I remember feeling absolute dread consume my body. I was terrified. I thought if my Dad was crying, or scared or whatever, the world must be ending. My Dad told me once "it's never so bad that it can't get worse". That stuck with me as well. He told me that when I was like 9 or 10 years old. And boy was he right. But that's just not my life, or your life. That's everybody's life. I try so hard every day to make the sun shine for somebody. If I can. Helping on a resume, sending a job link, something. Everything around us is fixable; everybody is going through the same problem. If not now, maybe later.
We both had an English muffin apiece, 3 glasses of water, but I had one extra cup of coffee. The time was 8:03 am when we both decided laughingly that we'd been there long enough. I had explained in the first 20 minutes of talking that everything we spoke about was between us. I let her know that when her book is published I'd be honored (if she liked) to interview her. So the whole rest of the time was just us sharing life. I made a friend that day. At the same time, Good Morning Aurora became a more polished media source. More focused I would say.
It was also a good way for me to start my morning. That was just the kind of emotional motivation I needed. A simple reiteration that it's never about "me", it's about "us".