Published 3:40 pm Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It’s a little scary.

Right now — at this very moment — your eyes are looking at this piece of paper, and you are looking at these little symbols we call “words.” Like a typewriter, your head is slowly scrolling left to right as you interpret these scribbles. In some mystical sense, my thoughts are going into your head.

And I don’t even know where you’re at. Let me guess. You’re at the kitchen table drinking a cup of coffee in your nightgown. No, you’re in the break room at work amidst the noise and chatter of the workplace. No, you’re in a restaurant getting your morning break with the guys. I don’t have a clue. I don’t even know your place in life. Working? Retired? In high school? A nursing home? Male? Female? Children?

The fact that you know so much about me is unsettling. You know how I feel about farm pickup trucks and sunsets and corn growing. About old folks and hound dogs and rain. About first dates and first loves and broken machinery and broken hearts. About cattle and purple martins and people. You know what makes my heart beat faster and what brings tears; what brings exultation and what brings tribulation. For some crazy reason, I crack the door to my soul open and let all of you strangers peer in. You — who I know so little about — know so much about me.

But then again, perhaps I know more about you than you think.

I know you struggle. You struggle over broken relationships and dead-end jobs and health problems and financial difficulties. You struggle with how you look at other people and how other people look at you. You struggle over not being smart enough and not being young enough and not being skinny enough.

It’s too much gray hair or not any hair. It’s no husband and no prospects. It’s failing eyesight and failing the math test. I know you struggle because I know you are human.

I know you laugh. You laugh over young children and old jokes. You laugh at others and you laugh at yourself. At pets and clowns and parties and people. I know you laugh because I know you are human.

I know you dream. You dream of what could be. Of better grades and better jobs and better marriages. Of nicer houses and nicer children. Of travel and adventure. Of higher IQs and lower mortgages. Of that guy or that girl or that car or those shoes. Of this life and the after-life. I know you dream because I know you are human.

I know you cry. It might be in the shower or the back room or the car. You cry over disappointment and pain. You cry because he is no longer around. You cry over what you don’t have or what the doctor says you do have. You cry because life didn’t turn out the way you planned. I know you cry because I know you are human.

I know you remember. The look of love in your mother’s eyes or the feeling of security in your father’s lap. The first car. The first kiss. Climbing a tree, a day at the beach, a night under the stars. That home run or that speeding ticket. The feel of the room in which you grew up or the sound of the rain on that roll tin roof. I know you remember because I know you are human.

Perhaps we do know each other after all.