It had been a tiring day of participating in mindless meetings and completing necessary tasks too inconsequential to matter in the bigger realm of life. When he finally lifted his head up beyond the computer screen and looked around, he realized that everyone else had left for the day. Lonely quiet echoed from the carpeted hallways. Remants of coffee aromas staled the air. He looked out the window only to be greeted by the flourescent light reflection on glass. Beyond that, night had settled in. It was time to go home. The thought made him involuntarily shiver as he remembered how it used to be. Such a contrast...... where did the warmth of home disappear to? When did it turn into a warren surrounded by wind rattled frostlink fencing?
Depleting energy drained out of his limbs leaving a heaviness of heart. So much so that he could barely put on his overcoat. Sighing fatigue captured every breath as he struggled to find the impetus to make the effort to make his way to the elevator. Shuffled steps slowly moved him down the corridor with an empty gaze blurred by a routine too tired to matter. He had forgotten what it was like to be excited about something to look forward to. Sameness coupled with loneliness left him bereft of any drive to take the steps to break free of that debilitating sense of feeling unloved.
Bing! The elevator doors opened. A woman who had worked a floor above for as many years as he could remember stood there looking as vacant as he felt. Quite often they left at the end of the day right about the same time, but rarely acknowledged one another because it was too much of an effort. However, this day was different. She looked up, met his eyes and offered a soft hello. His heart tugged as he realized it was the first voice he had heard in hours. It was the first person who had acknowledged his presence in what seemed like a long long time. More startling to him was the fact that it was the first time he had looked into the eyes of another. What he saw was his reflection.... a shared thread to the same dull life feelings. He smiled at her and offered a soft hello reply as he entered the elevator to stand beside her.
Instinctively, he knew she was going home to the same emptiness. Her day had been cluttered with meaningless tasks just like his. Her posture told him so. Though not normally a spontaneous person, in fact he clung to his methodic ways like a life raft, he felt a strong urge to connect with her..... to strike up a conversation ..... to tell her "I know exactly how you feel." But what would she think if he just blurted out something so brazen to someone who was as vulnerable? As the elevator travelled down toward their destination, something kicked alive inside him.... the urge turned into a need. And before he could think things through, he turned to look at her and said....
"Would you like to go get a bite to eat? I don't want to have dinner alone again tonight."
She replied, "I know exactly how you feel. I would love to."
The ice was broken. The elevator came to a halt. The doors opened onto the lobby. Beyond the lobby, people scurried by in a hurry on their way to their destinations. The evening traffic flowed like a patterned soundtrack. As they exited onto the street, he asked her where she would like to go, hoping she'd pick his favourite little Italian restaurant around the corner. Tentatively, she looked at him and said.... "There's a restaurant around the corner that serves the best lasagne in the city I've been told. I've always wanted to try it. What do you think?"
"I think its exactly where we should go," he said with an enthusiasm he had forgotten existed. "You know what? All of a sudden, I'm starving!"
"Me too," she said with a smile in her voice. "I can't remember the last time I was this hungry."
In our efforts to find love and belonging, ironically it is through sharing of our personal sufferings that lead us to some of the most deeply felt intimate connections with another. Humans are attracted others who can relate to their stories, who can feel their pain as well as their joy. Think of how alluring it is to finally be "heard," or to finally hear the words..... "I know exactly how you feel...... I've been there too...... " It is communication at its basic core.