"I know everything about everyone, even stuff I don't want to know!" she complained.
I laughed. Sitting as a do at cafes, wandering around talking honestly and openly with my neighbors and randoms passing through, I knew exactly what she meant. Sometimes knowing things about people does create a sense of responsibility we'd rather not have, it makes us look at our own lives in a way we'd often rather not.
"I hate to break it to you," I said, "but that's called 'community.'"
I have recently shared what many feel is far too much in my column for The Brooklyn Paper, but I am steadfast (as is my husband) that being open about our issues, first off with each other and then with others so they might not feel so alone, is crucial. I have always been deemed, "the one who says what everyone is thinking but doesn't say...", a trait that has left me out dangling on a limb many times. But I am convinced that TMI, if there is such a thing, is what is called for now in our era of TLRI, or Too Little Real Information.
There is a danger in our communities that people are walking around in a daze, not acknowledging even to themselves what they think, let alone reaching out so that others might help and support. But, in sharing myself, I hear so many amazing people's stories every day, stories of painful divorces that lead to awesome self-discoveries, stories of people speaking honestly within their marriages about the challenges so that they might move forward in something other than misery, people goosing themselves to make difficult changes in the hopes of finding more fulfillment.
Yesterday, I began singing to myself, out of nowhere, "The Rainbow Connection," from the Muppets and I turned to the woman walking next to me on the sidewalk to share with her this random fact, to wonder why this song of all others.
Broken out of her solitude by some crazy lady, she shrugged. "I guess it's just that kind of day...a Muppet kind of day. Maybe you're feeling Fozzie, maybe Oscar the Grouch..."
I laughed. "He did to an amazing job, Jim Henson, at capturing different moods with his characters, didn't he, at capturing all the people in a community?"
I introduced myself to the woman, Leslie, and gave her a gold star, just for engaging.
We are all here together after all. There is no reason to pretend we don't see one another, to not smile and chat about whatever might be on our minds. Try it. It's amazing what can happen.
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