All this happened a while back but I keep remembering certain isolated incidents and laugh over them.
This must have been Fall 2017. I was at a conference where there were a bunch of activists. Some were patients and some were psychologists or other type of doctor.
The first thing I saw was a group of doctors standing around joking. I had already tried to say hello to them and they had ignored me like I wasn’t there. They kept congregating around one doctor who was telling jokes. They then told him, “Why don’t you write a book? Have you thought about that?”
I wanted to cry over the irony of the moment. Or laugh.
Yes, I write…but who really cares anyway? I did not say that, of course, but I thought it.
There was this activist there, a couple of them, that I said hello to or waved to, expecting at least a hello. Nothing. One of them repeatedly walked past me without even a nod or a smile. This affected me profoundly. Why did that happen? Maybe I’m invisible, I thought.
Then, someone introduced herself to me and said she had always wanted to meet me. I don’t think she really knew that this one gesture, a gesture of kindness and recognition, made the entire conference worthwhile. A few others said hello, which I really appreciated. Do people even realize how important it is to recognize a person’s existence?
Decades ago I was with some other college students. Rolf Smedvig of the Boston Symphony Orchestra gave us a presentation. Afterward, we all went up to him for the purpose of asking questions. Rolf then deliberately embarrassed me. I never heard the end of it from my classmates, either.
People in high places have a huge effect on those around them. Ever go meet a rock star or sports star and have that person treat you like shit? Then you know. Did another person extend kindness to you? Bet you remember and cherish that moment.
I could do an entire speech, or possibly comedy act, on that Rolf Smedvig moment. I love being able to remember stuff that anyone else might have forgotten, and then, recreate that moment in words. I wish this skill was marketable! I’d be making a fortune.