We’re Going to be Okay

My laptop has been in the computer hospital. It needed a thingamabob configured for the whatchamacallit. I had hoped that it would write something for my blog while it was out on rehab, but, well, no plan is perfect.

I now, however, have a new best friend. His name is Thomas. He is like the Ronald Acuna of computers. Superstar status. He may be short and round with fingers like little sausages, but this guy knows his way around a computer. And the best part is, he doesn’t mind talking to a guy like me who knows Jack squat. He finds a way to take the cyber digital world down to my level, which is about 4th grade on a good day.

I could tell I was going to like this guy from the poster on the wall in his shop. It was a slap at how the world of computers has affected the way we redirect our language to adapt to the changes around us. Things like, “Before the world was run by computers, a password was the theme of a TV game show. A hard drive was a long day on the road. A window was something you actually opened.” And the list went on.

“Did you make those up?” I asked him.

“Naw. Those have been around for a while.” Like I should have known, and I guess I would know if I was a computer nerd living in the back room of a garage behind my parent’s house.

I shouldn’t be so sarcastic. But I can’t help myself. Thomas is a super nice guy and has done me a huge favor.

So, I’m back at the keyboard (which used to be a piano back in the day). It’s a slow and brutally hot Sunday afternoon. Max has just returned from some adventure through the mud and slime of the woods around us. He’s not a big fan of being wiped down with a towel, but he tolerates it. He has learned to appreciate the AC indoors and he is ready to be inside for a while.

I am trying to convince myself that I should get out and mow the grass. But it has been an easy sell to stay here on the couch and flip through the new Reader’s Digest. We get the large print edition these days. Gawd, I feel old.

Did you know that there are people out there who have turned to zapping their own brains with low-current electrical charges. Some bright soul has come up with a Home Electrical Brain Stimulation Kit. To the initiated it is known as TDCS, or transcranial direct current stimulation.

Why would anyone want to hook wires up to their brain, you ask? It has been shown somewhere, but it never says where exactly, that TDCS can have positive effects on memory, creativity, and attention span. All it takes is a small DC transformer, a few wires, and a few stick-on sponges soaked in salt water that you stick to your own head.

Are you listening to this? Did any of these people ever see “The Green Mile”? Wet sponges and electrical charges hooked to the human brain didn’t turn out so well for John Coffey. No thanks. If I want to stimulate my brain, I’ll stick my head in a bucket of ice water. Makes better sense than TDCS.

Sometimes I think the world has gone just a little bit nuts. I wonder if we’ve lost our way. If common sense was a boat, it feels like it has pulled loose from its moorings and drifted out to sea. The waves and wind from the hurricane are beating us to death. People are huddled inside scared to death that we’re all going to be ripped apart before we find our way out of this mess.

But then, there’s Emmerson. She’s 11 years old and is an avid letter writer. And not just a plain old note, but she works her own brand of artistic skill into each letter and envelope. Yes, sir, that’s right. Paper and pen and envelope and stamp. None of this FB posting and social media stuff for this gal. She hates to text because the letter writing is so much more personal.

Emmerson puts three things into each of her letters. A joke. Why don’t you ever see Elephants hiding in the trees? Uhhhhhh! Because they’re really good at it. She also talks about her younger brother, because she likes to include others. Not everything is about just her. And last, some amazing little piece of trivia about Taylor Swift, her idol. “That way”, she says, “people get to know me.”

Emmerson has been writing letters like this for several years. Remember, she’s only 11. Then one day she decided to write one to her postal carrier. It occurred to her that he sees her crazy letters all the time and that if it wasn’t for him, her letters would go nowhere. So, she wrote him a letter of thanks.

“I’m Emmerson. You may know me as the person that lives here that writes a lot of letters & decorated the envelopes. Well, I wanted to thank you for taking my letters and delivering them. You are very important to me. I make people happy with my letters, but you do too. You make it possible.”

This little gesture started a tidal wave of response. Her carrier shared the letter with his boss. She posted it for others to see. Em’s note made its way into the newsletter for the USPS Western Headquarters. Pretty soon mail carriers from nearly every part of the country were writing back to Emmerson. Her carrier, Doug, came to the door, not only to meet Emmerson, but to bring her boxes and boxes of letters from postal workers from all over who were moved by her words of thanks.

Because this little 11 year old girl had been so genuine in her appreciation and her effort to reach out to a total stranger, the letters that came back to her were filled with emotions that spoke of an unidentified current that runs deep in all of us. Everybody, every where would like to feel appreciated now and then. It’s that simple.

They wrote about their pets, and their hobbies, and asked questions about her family, and some even confessed of being closet T. Swift fans. They even sent her stamps so she could keep writing.

One lady that works the back room in a postal station wrote: “I can’t tell you how much it means to me to read your letter. I have a son in Kuwait and if you have a second to send him a letter, he would love it.” Em wrote them both that night.

I’m about to choke up over here. It’s either this story or the fumes coming from Max lying at my feet. Here’s this girl in somewhere town America making a difference in the lives of people who evidently really needed something good to come their way. And who doesn’t right now.

I’m no psychologists and I certainly don’t pretend to understand the human condition, but I know this much. We all need to feel connected, and after about 6 months of doing everything we can to distance ourselves from nearly everyone important to us and nearly every stranger around us, we may have broken loose from our moorings. We may be drifting out to sea.

Most of us just want to be seen in this world. We don’t want to be forgotten. It cuts deep when we start to feel like no one cares. No one wants to be cast aside. We all do our jobs, but what really matters is whether or not someone sees us, appreciates us, and acknowledges that we matter.

Way to go, Emmerson.

We are going to get ourselves back. Maybe not next week. But soon. And if we think about it for just a little bit, there has to be somebody out there that we can tell, “Hey, it’s going to be okay. You matter.” I hope I just did.

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