Perhaps you’ve heard this story? How do we react? “Ah, how touching, this has restored my faith in humanity.” But here’s a neat little trick. Remember the advice, “Put yourself in their shoes. Advice for understanding what someone’s going through. “I’m really sorry, that must be terrible.” Or, “I can see why you’re upset, you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to.” But when was the last time you put yourself in someone’s shoes, and those shoes were absolutely wonderful.
Try, try to imagine how James Robertson felt last Tuesday, before all of this. Ten long years of suffocating misery behind him, walking through the freezing January night, barely awake with only two hours of sleep to look forward to, days bleeding together into an endless grey monotony. It is a lonely, empty, bitter life—if it can even be called a life. And there is no hope, none, of things ever changing.
Now, with that in mind, imagine how he must have felt, on a day like any other and without warning, the moment this crowdfunding came through. Ten years of suffering and then, magic. The surprise, the relief, the joy. And the love. Love so overwhelming it’s crippling, making it difficult to think, to breath, to see straight. But suffusing you with such undeniable, unconquerable warmth and positivity and openness that you melt out into the vibrant world, untethered from those grey years that dragged behind you like a chain.
Damn it feels good. Better than charity. (And easy, just a little empathy and imagination–I do it every day.)
But, you know what? James Robertson felt infinitely more and better than anything you and I just experienced.
We have a tendency to focus in on the negative. To try to welcome it—misery breeds strength of character or artistry; to rationalize and accept it—“don’t be naïve, it’s just the way of the world.” But fuck that. I’m going to continue striving to perceive the world as James Robertson has the past few days. Because love is real. And it’s better. And, goddamn it! it’s attainable.