Saturday, 13 October 2012
Lessons From a Chat Room
I spend a lot of time on the internet surfing around and generally wasting time. I have a few places I haunt regularly; blogs, chats, web pages, that sort of thing. I follow a lot of writers on their social media sites and stalk them on their blogs and web pages. I find their successes very inspiring and their disappointments strangely comforting.
I’ve even hung out on POF and some other dating sites, just talking to people. Some folk are reticent and reluctant to share their stories, not that I blame them. Some are clearly making it up as they go along and others will openly tell you anything you ask. Occasionally I use bits and pieces of what I hear as inspiration for a character in my stories. They provide a base or a starting point, if you will, for someone who I flesh out later.
I really hadn’t expected to meet someone whose life story would humble me and motivate me to be a better person. I’m not talking about inspiring me as a writer; I’m talking about inspiring me as a human being.
Over the past few months, I’ve struck up a friendship of sorts with a gentleman who I’ll call Wes. I ran into him in a chat room. What first caught my eye about Wes was his quick wit; he’s fast with the snappy comeback and witty retort. These aren’t your usual cutting remarks, just gentle teasing and good fun. He dishes out barbs and witticisms, but doesn’t mind being the brunt of a joke. He is upbeat and positive and always has a comforting word for people who are upset or hurt. I’m not sure he would appreciate it, but I always think of him as a ray of sunshine.
Wes is talkative and open about anything anyone asks him. He’s easy to chat with and conversations with him range from the mundane to the totally bizarre. A few nights ago, Wes told me that he had spent the weekend hopped up on pain meds because he was in a serious car accident. He was very philosophical about the whole thing, saying things like, “My car is probably totalled, but I’m okay. The bruises will be gone in a few weeks.” He sounded quite optimistic actually.
We all know how difficult it can be to settle things with our insurance company; and even here Wes is easy going. He is hoping that insurance will fix his car; rather than pay him out for it. Admitted that this was unlikely and shrugged it off, if they wrote off his car, he would just scrape together enough to get a replacement. What a fabulous attitude!
Somehow, my conversation with Wes took another turn and we started talking about the positive outlook he had. He tells me he’s finding all the happiness and pleasure he can gather. His philosophy is that he works to live, rather than living to work. He no longer works insane hours to buy things he doesn’t really need. He’s taking the time to enjoy his life and his friends, to enjoy the small pleasures rather than working himself to exhaustion.
I was impressed by his attitude. Being nosy, I asked him his age and he told me he was 28. I was astounded, I had assumed he was someone who had lived much longer and had learnt a lot more. I mentioned that his attitude was unusual for someone so young and he told me that it is because he had learnt to take the good with the bad and to focus on the positive.
During our last chat he told me that he has a very aggressive form of MS and some other health complications and that he is unlikely to live to be 40. He said, “Think of me as ¾ dead. I’m not going to live a long life and I’m going to enjoy every minute of this one; so I try to find the best in every situation.”
Holy hell and geez Louise.
I’ll be honest with you, I cried for him. It broke my heart to hear that in a world full of negativity, such a positive man was living knowing that he would be taken away early. He deserved better.
But I cried for me too, for all the happiness I have robbed myself of with my ‘poor me’ attitude. I have a good life, but I’m prone to petty whines and quick to anger sometimes. Wes helped me to realise how good I have it and I intend to adopt his attitude as best I can. I want to find the pleasure in little things and enjoy my life, my friends and family.
I raise my glass in toast to you Wes. Thank you for inspiring me to be a better person; and for showing me that the world is a wondrous place if we let it be. The world needs more people like you.