By Nichole Giles
I have a lot of friends. Not that I consider myself popular, or that I try hard to make friends. The truth is that the people I consider true friends are people I’ve come to know over several years, and who I’ve grown closer to as time has passed. Some of my friends have come because of shared values or goals, some from shared interests, some from common jobs or spouses who have common jobs. Each person has come to me through a different path, a different channel, and a different means.
Call it a character flaw on my part. Or a blessing. Or a point of vulnerability. Depends on the day.
And I’m not complaining. Really, truly, I’m so blessed, so grateful. But this heart of mine, while complete with all the strings and chords stretching from friend to friend, has a downside. Even as I am able to feel and share in the joys of the lives of people who matter to me, so do I feel the heartaches inflicted on them. I hurt with them, I cry with them, and I experience surges of anger when one of my friends suffers from an injustice. See? Point of vulnerability.
I think this is one of the reasons I started writing. Sometimes there’s this excess of emotion welling up inside me, and for the longest time I didn’t have a clue what to do with it. Since I’ve discovered my writing outlet, I realize that all my experiences, even the vicarious ones, have been given to me as a gift. That gift has become material for stories.
My work generally has an emotional tendency, and that’s okay. I write how I feel, and I’m proud of it. The stuff written out of emotion is leaps and bounds better than the stuff I force myself to type—though I recognize that both kinds of writing are necessary in order to finish a piece of work, however short or long. There has to be some balance.
Anyway, this week, I have a handful of friends—all of differing situations and circles—who are hurting for various reasons. I tend to have this crazy urge to fix people’s lives, even though I’m well aware other people's circumstances are out of my control. Still, the instinct is there. And it’s hard to not be able to help.
Except I can. Not by taking away the problems inflicted on others, but by being a friend. Offering a shoulder, an ear, or a punching bag if needs be. And for the times when that just doesn’t feel like enough, I write. And maybe, someday, something I’ve written will help someone else by helping them find a solution to the problems of the world.
And that will have to be enough.
If you can’t make it to the opening, that’s okay. We’re scheduled for several signings in Utah over the next couple of weeks. Click here for the updated full schedule.
Hope to see you there!