Tonight I had a thought. Why am I here? (In life, sure, but I mean, more specifically, on #G@G.) But for that matter, why are we all here? And... who are we? And it made me think of the iconic 1985 coming-of-age film #TheBreakfastClub
Five students of a high school are all sent to Saturday detention, for various infractions. The teacher, Mr. Vernon, has about as much compassion and sympathy as any power-hungry take-his-hatred-of-the-world-out-on-others does. In addition to spending their entire day stuck in detention, he tells them their punishment is to write an essay. "Describe to me who you think you are." Part classic writer's character developmental plot device, and part plot good vs. evil symbolic narrative, they are each meant to summarize their character, and justify their very existence "in no less than 1000 words." But... by the end of the day, the disparate group, who began as only cliche archetypes, rather than with the respect and complexity of unique individuals, have now banded together, and in their united opposition to their dictator, found a way to look past their own judgements and stereotypes, and to a deeper understanding of who they all really were. And what they found was the fact that, despite initial appearances, they really weren't so unlike each other after all. They now knew, understood, and accepted each other, and were bonded in this shared experience.
This was their response:
Dear Mr. Vernon,
We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it is we did wrong, but we think you're crazy for making us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out, is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basketcase, a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question?
Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club.
So why are we here? From reading hundreds, if not probably thousands of comments here over these past few months, and through many fascinating PMs with some individuals, I can say that there are some common threads that tie us together.
We come here after loss. We come here after heartache. We come here to run away, and to run towards something new. We are escaping, and embarking (quite often, in that order.) This 'place', this platform, gives us something in common. We are individuals, vastly different in our pasts and present circumstances, and we often feel the discomfort of that friction and disparity pushing up against us. (It is not so much the inherent differences, as the lack of open-mindedness, and hearing each other out, and the singular, anonymized, disrespect and opinionatedness that is the root of this.) There are many users here who use this as a venue to act out their anger and rage and frustration at the world - really with no productive goal in mind, except to assauge some of their own feelings. But there are also many good people here, who only want to share a bit of who they are, learn things from others, and, hopefully, make some connections. The stories and details of our lives are infinite and bottomless, but here are some that stand out to me...
The person with a heart of gold who contributes often, supports everyone, and wants nothing more than to contribute and be part of a community that enriches each other's lives. The person who is playful, creative, blocks no one, responds respectfully even when challenged, and is a poet at heart. The person with seemingly endless wisdom to share, but never does so in a heavy-handed or superior sort of way, and does it with grace and from a personal voice, which is so easy to relate to in its honesty. The person who shows immense self-restraint and gives respect to those who comment, even when they don't probably deserve it. The thinks-outside-the-box artist who has taught themself how to fashion many things with their hands (a skill becoming more and more rare) and the raw creativity and confident unorthodoxy of their mind. The razer sharp technical mind who has discovered their greater desire and purpose is to help others, after having once, not uncommonly, lived through dark times themselves, and now sees a way through, but who offers advice only cautiously and with utmost humility. The person who faced sudden and violent tragedy and as if barrelling through and processing the stages of grief and despite the grave shock and loss, found a positive takeaway and path to even greater spiritual growth. The person who feels themself an island, but with the ability to see truth between the lies, looks for similar yet perhaps rare common sensibilities out there, and struggles to find the desire to keep hoping for connection. The person who lost their greatest love and partner, and tries continually to find an existence without them. And the many, many people who believe they have found 'the one', but, each for a different reason, are unable to be with them today.
There are many people who have also left. Far, far more than I have known in my short time here. But I will dedicate this end to one in particular, who left months ago to find his next love. He found it once, was making simple, and grand plans of how their life would look together in the future... but she died suddenly and tragically, and it took everything he had in him to say goodbye to her, and to eventually find the courage to move on once more, to try and find happiness again. It was not going to be here, this was not going to be the place of his resurrection, which is admirable and understandable. Some people need more than what this place can provide. We are from all parts of the globe, which is both the beauty and the sometimes agony of it. We look for connections, yet if and when we find them, we are often limited in the satisfaction we can gain from it. It takes guts to decide that the warmth and smile of a person next to you, on that sofa and in your bed, is what is really needed to feel complete. Some things can be a distraction from this true, and most honest desire. But for those that decide to stay, to contribute, and to share small, and sometimes meaningful pieces of themselves, we should, perhaps, at times, take a moment, and be appreciative, because we are all more than archetypes and stereotypes and labels, both assigned and self-imposed. I believe many of you do find connection here. Beneath the never-ending feed of thoughts and ideas, yes so many repeated, there is substance. I've experienced it, and I feel the palpable, though sometimes distant, desire for it. Humans cannot live on surface alone. Finding a higher purpose in life, in your life, is a lofty goal, and one many will find they are inadequate to live up to. But if you look at it in less crucial or dire terms, life is about connection. And this cannot happen without some boldness and some bravery in expressing who you are. Doing this brings criticism and judgement, without question, but this level of honesty and directness in expressing your views, may also be the way to challenge them, and eventually find in you a better version of yourself. I believe #G@G lays the foundation for this. It is entertainment, and "a way to pass the time", yes, as I have read so many times, but it is also an opportunity to find who we are, and who we want to be.
I dedicate this to someone who is new in my life. I've spent the past few weeks getting to know them on a very deep level, and they have reminded me the power of not closing yourself off, or down, or away, but towards. We can learn from each other. We can find inspiration from each other. Sometimes that comes from others' pain, or circumstances, or bravery, or determination, or effort, or optimism... the list is long... and it is different for each of us, but I will leave you with this final thought - just don't forget to be open. It begins with this. Sometimes you must cast aside what you believed you always knew, or what always was, and allow yourself to be surprised. There are good people here, as there are out there in the world. You have only to look, and to listen, and be still for a moment, to find them.