Other People’s Problems

Dearest Rachel –

As much as she insists that she is not – and has no desire to be – “Megumi,” Erin does have a curious knack for proving my point that ‘it is not right for a man to be alone.’ If I wander around, lost in my own thoughts, before too long, those thoughts will take me to some very strange and dark places from time to time, and I definitely need someone to bring me out of those places.

Additionally, she has a way of making me think about things that wouldn’t occur to me by my own lights, and under my own power. Last week, she warned me that I was wanting too much of an easy life – which I’m pretty sure I’m misquoting, and which I furthermore misinterpreted over the next few days. Yesterday, she tried to clarify herself by pointing out that I was too wrapped up in my own problems (weighty though they may be), when there are so many other people that are dealing with bigger and more urgent problems that I might have the wherewithal to help solve for them.

In both cases, as much as I might dislike having to admit it, she’s quite right. I know I’ve complained to you about wanting to get back to a rough approximation of normal, or even get back on that plan of going out into the world and enjoying life, the world, and all they both have to offer. I suppose if that isn’t an easy life, there isn’t any such thing. Similarly, our little family has been relatively insular for so long that I can’t remember being a part of anything larger for long time. I don’t know what problems other people are facing; and if I did, I wouldn’t have the faintest notion what to do about them. I would always rely on either you or my parents to point some things like these out, and let me know what to do to ameliorate someone else’s situation. I mean, I can follow orders pretty well; but like Inigo Montoya, I have no gift for strategy.

After all, it’s not like problems are necessarily solve by throwing money at them. I know of too many stories out there, for instance, of children of rich parents who would rather have their time than their money, but it’s all the parents know to give – and they’ve devoted their time to making more of that money, after all. Which all goes back to that question of ‘enough:’ does that quantity exist, or will you know when you get there? And of course, what will it cost you?

Erin suggests I volunteer more, in order to personally address peoples needs; perhaps at a food bank or soup kitchen, where I can deal with these kind of people face-to-face and first hand. In fairness, I really haven’t done that since the days we were both in college and doing that missions trip at Uptown Baptist. And I don’t doubt that conditions have likely only worse than they are and universally since then. “The poor he will always have with you,” Jesus said. And it seems there’s little we can do to completely mitigate their suffering.

Although to be fair, the ‘poor’ of the west would be quite considered quite rich in comparison to the desperately poor in certain other parts of the world, or even throughout much of history. It’s really all comparative, isn’t it? As much of the necessary as much of a necessity that it is, it wasn’t that long ago iPhone was an absolute luxury, so it’s still occasionally jarring to see those homeless, jobless folks on the corners of the Triangle, holding their signs begging for help while raising a cell phone to their face every now and then.

But there’s no question it’s necessity these days. If they are to find a job, they need some way to be contacted, after all. And a phone’s a lot cheaper than a house. The optics are still weird, though.

But that leaves the question, where do I fit in with all this? I’ve never really been good with people; even my attempts to remake myself in college as a gregarious type were a, shall we say, qualified success. Yes, I wound up with you, unlike some of my classmates. But that was in spite of who I was, not because of it. That’s why, when I do volunteer for this or that, it’s in some little out-of-the-way corner where I don’t have to interact with so many people.

Look, I may well be going about this the wrong way, but I can’t figure out the right way to be. And as much as Erin’s idea is a good and noble one, I honestly fear that it just doesn’t suit me.

Still, I should probably mull it over. The season doesn’t start in earnest until school opens up again. We’ll see if there’s somewhere else I should fit myself in.

As always, wish me luck, honey.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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