gratitude

Why the Internet Can Be Good (RE: Alex Rayfiel)

The other day as I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw a link a friend posted that caught my eye. It had a picture of a boy named Alex, who I’d gone to high school with, attached to an article whose title didn’t quite register until after I clicked it.

When the page loaded, my face went white. Alex was sick. Recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. His family had created a donation page in the hope of raising money for a radical new treatment in Israel. I read through the story his wife posted, aching for the two of them and their newly born daughter. It all sounded so completely unfair.

Now, I’d never known this guy. We’d gone to high school together for four years, and I’d seen him around from time to time, but never got to know him. In fact, I only met him once in a brief introduction from a mutual friend at our shared college. But as I read the story about the turn his life has suddenly taken, I realized I remembered him, and how, even in our lack of interaction, he’d left a mark on me.

High school is tough for everyone, often in different ways, and while I wouldn’t say I had a terrible experience, I also wouldn’t volunteer to do it all over again. I was a quiet, reserved student who stuck to what she knew and rarely felt comfortable in her own skin. That being said, Alex made me laugh.

He and his friends had participated in the talent show as the “Finger Flippers” which became legendary amongst our senior class. And during our senior luncheon, they created a video that discussed which of our classmates had celebrity lookalikes. I remember sitting at the back table, nervous as always, counting down the days until I graduated. I hadn’t been sat next to any of my friends, and I was internally apologizing to the people around me for not being more interesting. But then the lights went down and the video started, and I laughed through the whole thing. It was a genuine laugh, the kind that makes you feel lighter, and as I looked around the room at my classmates who felt the same, I felt included. Afterwards, when Alex and his friends mentioned they had plans to post the video to YouTube I took note, excited to have something positive to look back on in the future. I’d forgotten about the video over all these years, and only found it when I searched his name. When I watched it again however, it still gave me that good feeling.

So as I read through his story and then through some of the comments, I couldn’t help but feel drawn to donate, not only because it was the right thing to do, but because it felt like a way I could say thank you for giving me those moments of freedom all those years ago. And even more, allow me the opportunity to be a part of offering him the chance to experience a moment of freedom in the future. Be it through minor progress, or radical recovery.

This is the good part about the Internet. For amongst all the drama and fake personas, there also lie small bursts of goodness. There are chances to read stories of hope and resilience, chances to reconnect with old friends and family, and sometimes, chances to lend a hand to a near stranger. And so, Alex Rayfiel, while we may remain essentially strangers, I hope you know I’m praying for you, and that I’m grateful for what you gave me all those years ago, even if you had no idea. I wish you and your family all the best, and I hope the next time I find you in my Facebook feed, it will be to inform me that you’re on the road to recovery.

If you want to help Alex, you can find his donation page here.

How Lucky Are We to Hate That?

I wake up with a stretch and yawn, only to find that my alarm didn’t go off and I’m now late to work.

I hate that.

I get dressed to go out to dinner and I spill makeup on myself and have to change.

I hate that.

I’m sitting in traffic and a guy in front of me has decided to cut me off, flip me off, and then honk.

I hate that.

I’m trying to log on to Hulu to watch my favorite show but the Internet won’t load.

I just hate that.

Day in and day out I can find things that I hate, we all can. Be it small annoyances or major pet peeves, they are always lurking, ready to ruin a perfectly good mood. And while sometimes we do have those moments, that figurative *light bulb* that opens our eyes to the ridiculousness of ourselves and our drama, do we ever really take notice of how lucky we are to hate the things we hate?

Take wet socks. You know the feeling. It’s Saturday morning and you just woke up; haven’t even bothered to put on pants yet. You stroll into the kitchen, pour yourself a bowl of Cheerios and then you slide across the tile to grab the milk. In mid Apollo Anton Ono glide, you find a puddle. The wetness invades your lazy morning socks, upsets your lazy morning toes, and brings you lamenting on your lazy morning knees. You make sure to tell the story to all of your friends and they all say the same thing with an empathetic shake of the head, “Ah man, I just hate that!”

But which part exactly do we hate?

The access to water that created the puddle?

The ability to live in a house with tile floors and own a pair of socks that makes them fun to slide on?

What about the blessing of a lazy morning?

Or the opportunity to have a good night’s sleep?

Well when you put it like THAT.

Trust me, I get it. I will be the first one to tell you that I take advantage of what I have and take too much time noticing what I don’t. Just the other morning I found myself grinding my teeth when I found that someone had taken my parking spot at work. A PARKING SPOT.

We all have our things that get under our skin and I’m not going to ask you to try and pretend that they don’t. In fact I think we should do quite the opposite: Revel in the things that annoy you, and then silence them with gratitude.

How lucky I am to hate my missed alarm. It means I have to job to get to.

How luck I am to hate changing my outfit before dinner. It means I have more than one pair of clothes.

How lucky I am to hate traffic. It means I have a car and somewhere to go.

How lucky I am to hate the slowness of my Wi-Fi connection. It means I have access to computers, a moment to relax and watch television, and a home where I feel safe to do so.

We are lucky to hate the things we hate, for they are far less dangerous, heartbreaking, and life threatening than many of the problems people around the world have to face each and every day. So the next time you find yourself annoyed, frustrated, or audibly admitting, I just hate that, take another second to look around and be grateful. For there are people with far less to love and far more to hate, and yet they still get up every morning to face the day with a smile.