One night last week, I called Julie on my way home from work. Julie is one of my best friends, knows me very well, and doesn’t mind when I leave long, rambling voicemails – which is what I did that night. Among various and sundry details, at the end of the message, I voiced a fear I have about my relationships: “I hope I’m not disappearing.”
In this disconnected world, as friendships change with time and distance, it’s easy for any of us to fear being unknown – if I went away, would anyone notice? Everyone is so busy, so involved in their own lives – if I disappeared, would it even matter?
The next morning, I woke to find an email from my next door neighbor. He was leaving town that day, and his dog-sitter had fallen through. Could I take care of his 140 lb. St. Bernard, Bo?
Over the years, as my income has slowly increased, I’ve found that so has my autonomy. A ride to the airport? No thanks, I’ll just pay for parking. Borrow a dress for a wedding? It’s okay, I’ll buy my own. Need help moving? I’m alright, I’ll just hire movers.
Post-college, increasingly more so year after year, I’ve found that we seem to need each other less and less. Independence is all well and good – but at what point does our self-sufficiency actually do us a disservice? At what point does our maverick mindset lead to a lonely detachment?
And when does our relational disconnect actually deprive someone else of being seen, being noticed, being needed?
I said yes to taking care of Bo. It was the smallest thing – feeding him, letting him out a couple of times, taking him on a walk which I would have gone on anyway. Arriving at the front door and having him shove his massive head into my hands for some love was the highlight of that day and a half – and for those 36 hours, I felt needed. I felt connected. I felt seen.
The next time I need help, I’m going to ask for it. Who knows – someone might need me more than I need them.