"Life, Interruped: The 100 Day Project," by Suleika Jaouad:
. . . Along the way I will visit and thank some of the strangers who unexpectedly supported and inspired me when I was sick. There was a mother hooked on the pain medications she was prescribed during her cancer treatment, a man who lost his brother in the North Tower on 9/11, a fit and healthy twenty-something living in San Francisco who was searching for — everything. I heard from doctors who assigned my columns as reading to their medical students, and from students who were inspired by my writing to become doctors. I even heard from a convict on death row in Texas who wrote to me about the unexpected parallels between our lives. “The threat of death lurks in both of our shadows,” he wrote to me in careful cursive.
They don’t know it, but many of these individuals became lifelines — bright, shining lights during the darkest days. These strangers were more thoughtful, honest and vulnerable with me and each other than a lot of the people I know in the real world. Their empathy was an affirmation of humanity. Their stories of resilience gave me strength in my moments of weakness. They taught me about the kind of person I wanted to become. (First and foremost, one who reaches out in times of hardship.) Most importantly, they showed me that we all have interruptions at some point, whether it’s illness, the death of a loved one, unemployment or a bad break up.
Hardship can make us feel isolated. As much of an introvert as I am, that doesn't mean I revel in feeling like a freak. The idea that someone else weathered the storm and emerged soggy, wind-burned, and triumphant is galvanizing.
Sharing our stories can have insane ripple effects of change. Benjamin Hertwig's "In the Waiting Room of Estranged Spouses" relates his saga of of chaos, pain, and eventual redemption after learning of his wife's infidelity. A commenter identified as "Sylvia" posted the below, which was printed with the letters:
This letter cut me deeply. I was wowed how one man's story of overcoming pain and forging a way to peace quenched another's fury and anguish.
Humans need to connect, and true connection only occurs through vulnerability. (Brené! Brené! Brené!) In that connection, we can all heal.