Remember the saying? The one about the flapping butterfly starting a hurricane a world away? It's hard not to appreciate so poetic a philosophical sentiment, but it's clearly full of shit. The one about ripples in a pond, though... that one's pretty accurate.
I can't recall the exact way Zen describes it, but it basically amounts to humanity being a pond, and the actions of individuals creating ripples. Ripples that traverse the width and breadth of that small body of water that is the world, affecting others along the way. Of course, we'll never see the distant changes we may cause, but they're there. A bad mood leading to words of anger leads to someone else's sad mood leading to tears, and so on.
And those are just the ripples we can see. Never mind the undercurrents.
I am not, by nature, overly sympathetic to humanity as a whole, but I do understand that everyone is connected somehow. That we are all six degrees apart is no simple drinking game. Or maybe it is, should one be drinking from the pond. I also tend to be overly sympathetic to friends in need, or friends who think they're in need. I've been rock bottom myself, both emotionally and pragmatically, and it's a shitty place to be... even if you're head is still above the water.
For whatever reason, and even I'm at a loss to fully comprehend why, I've been a "go to" guy since early in my Army career. And not just for technical or occupational reasons, but for emotional reasons, as well. Strangely, I usually found myself needing some sort of support from others, but people would still come to me for the simplest of things. The most complex, too, including things that I quite plainly had no experience with whatsoever. But, they came, called, whatever. And I was there. Even if I didn't really care, but don't tell anyone that.
Today, a rather odd thing happened. One of my readers confessed that a blog I wrote helped this person's relationship. I don't think there was any real danger of this relationship breaking up, but it was admitted that they were in a sort of a rut. Honestly, it never occurred to me that my writing had an effect on anybody, much less friends of mine. Sure, I've written things in order to try to cheer people up (see "Other People's Fires"), but they never seem to work. And, to be honest, such pieces were probably only written so I could make myself seem more important than I actually am.
Then again, maybe it's because my writing waxes poetic a little too much, and people take to that. I used to be able to write a fairly sterile piece, but lately I haven't felt like it. Hell, I haven't felt like it ever, probably. There's always some sort of anger, melancholy, false hope, etc. poking its oft-dishonest head into my work. I've been called melodramatic, despicable, crazy, stupid, inane, insane, arrogant, narcissistic, and foolish because of my writing, and while there's certainly some truth to those adjectives, I am most certainly not my writing.
That stated, this is not to claim that pieces of me aren't in my writing, and it's fairly obvious that I've been uncharacteristically "open and honest" in some recent works, but I do try to write in another pond, so to speak. Or, at least, I think I do. Perhaps my lack of sympathy in persona finds its way through fingertips into the gentle tapping of letters on a keyboard. More likely, perhaps I'm just full of shit.
Who really knows? The possibility remains that none of this is for me to decide. There's a point in writing when a piece begins to belong to its readers and no longer its author. Maybe that's what's happening here, maybe not. All I know is I'm staring at ripples distorting the reflection of a stranger.