There was a collision during our trail group run this weekend. It wasn’t the thud of a man running into a tree. It wasn’t the screeching of a woman face planting in the mud. It was the unexpected collision of hyperbole and wisdom.
You see, hyperbole often entertains me.
Especially when it is used to describe otherwise mundane experiences as “best ever” and “worst ever”. I find it amusing when someone begins a complaint with “Isn’t it the worst ever when..?” and then proceeds to detail the torment of having to stand in the customer service line to return a gift. Or when a friend begins a story with “Isn’t it the best ever when..?” and then regales us with tales from his favorite burger joint.
So my ears perked up when one of the runners in our trail group posed the question – “Do you know what the best words ever said, are?”
You see, hyperbole sometimes intrigues me.
In the moments before she spilled the beans revealing her sage advice, my mind raced through many possibilities of what may constitute the best words ever said.
– “I love you.”
– “I forgive you.”
– “You have a great smile.”
– “You look like you’ve lost weight.”
– “I’m sorry.”
– “I have Oreos to share.”
I was envisioning a handful of Double-Stuffed-goodness when I heard the runner complete her thought of the best words ever.
This runner posited that the best words you can ever say to another person are empathic ones. Words that say “I’ve been there.” “I get you.” “I feel ya, dawg.” “Same.” “Me too.”
I ran quietly for a while, thinking about empathy. How I want people to know me beyond the superficial. How I feel when I attempt vulnerability, only to have a friend miss the chance to hear my heart. How good it feels when someone takes the time to listen, and ask the questions that dig deeper.
I wondered if the people in my life believe I am empathic for them. Do my students believe I can relate to them as a learner without all the answers? Do my daughters know I that I am more interested in the well-being of their hearts, than the compliance of their actions? Do my colleagues know that I struggle with similar concerns of juggling Common Core requirements, professional assessment, and infusing kids with a love of learning? Do my words and actions communicate, “Me too.”?
You see, hyperbole occasionally inspires me.
I know that my run on this earth is short. I want to make a difference. While I may not collect the most toys, or win the most awards, I can make the most of the time left. I can make sure the people around me know that I’m walking in similar shoes. I can be a better listener. A better friend. A better husband. A better father. A better teacher.
I’m not sure that “Me too” are the best words I can ever say, but they are pretty darn good ones, especially when given with an empathic heart that is ready to listen. You had a bad day? Me too. Your heart has been broken? Me too. You’re afraid of blowing it? Me too. You want an Oreo? Me too.