“Where have all the living people disappeared to?” Sally asks and I’m not quite sure whether she’s addressing the question to me or merely ruminating out loud as she is sometimes known to do. “I mean the real-life people, not the walking dead with their heads buried in electronics that fight to live in overcrowded cities only to isolate themselves in public and form fake surface relationships on the internet.”
I make the assumption she is talking to me and I’m about to reply, but either I’m wrong in thinking the conversation included me or I took too long to speak up, because she continues, “I am so tired of dealing with avatars,” this is the name Sally applies to all sentient lifeforms capable of effectively communicating with her who ignore her for text messages and Instagram videos. “There must have been some shift in the social axis that I wasn’t made aware of that suddenly made every avatar I encounter uber unfriendly, discourteous and unkind. It’s like I’ve suddenly become a stranger to my neighbors, the city—hell, the whole goddamned societal globe. How is a person supposed to exist today without someone, anyone, offering up a bit of emotional support or maybe even just a helping hand? Am I the insane one here?”
I don’t answer, chiefly because my truth and her truth are rarely in alignment and I have no desire to hurt her feelings or open up a can of worms. I decide it’s a safer bet all around to allow her to vent her frustrations.
“And now everyone tosses the term friend around so haphazardly,” Sally gestures broadly into the open air as if delivering a sermon to an unseen congregation. “Slapping it onto a multitude of undeserving random strangers so that the original meaning of being someone that shares trust, confidence, and support, despite the odds and no matter the situation. And if an expert were to examine current day friendships, they would find that the relationships only last as long the favors derived from the friendship continue to exist.”
“Well, I’m your friend,” I finally chime in. “And none of that applies to me.”
“I’m not talking about you, of course.”
“You’re not talking to me, either. This is the verbal equivalent of a thread rant and I’m not saying that I don’t understand how you feel and agree with what you’re saying in part but I’d like to address this topic in a broader sense, if I may?”
Sally is visibly put-off by my interruption but gestures, “By all means, fill your boots.”
And I explain to her that one of my pet peeves with social media profiles and posts is the rampant negativity that prevails. After touting how happy, friendly, down to earth they are, individuals will proceed to run off a list of don’ts and other things that they absolutely positively will not stand for.
“But why not simply concentrate on the positive? And that includes you,” I pause to gauge her reaction. Her face is expressionless, perhaps I should stop but to be honest I want her to hear what I have to say, so I press on.
“As overused as the Gandhi quote is, why not try to Be the change you want to see in the world? Which means, perhaps instead of expecting people to immediately conform to your desired way of being—”
“Yes, desired. Are you really being the type of person to the avatars that you want them to be to you? Why not pay it forward and set the example by walking the walk in addition to talking the talk? You want people to wave Hi to you on the street? Try waving first.”
“So, the responsibility rests solely on my shoulders?”
“Do I even have to answer that, Sally? If you want the people within your sphere of influence to treat you differently, who better than you to take on the responsibility?”
Sally opens her mouth, closes it, then opens it again but says nothing, obviously attempting to formulate her response. In the silence, I continue.
“What if all the avatars you pass every day, the ones who somehow seem familiar for no apparent reason, the ones who brush past you without so much as an Excuse me, were all meant to cross your path for a reason?
“What if a soulmate—yes, I believe you can have more than one—someone who held a message for your life and possible insights into your future, was lost because you were too deeply into your righteous indignation to catch their gaze?
“Or better yet, what if every bump was meant to be a chance for an avatar to share something they know that might help you on your path, or maybe even better still, you happen to be one of those people holding onto a piece of their life that needs to be let go or needs to be passed on like a story you need to share?
“Think about it, haven’t you ever come across people in your life you think will be there forever, and then they just fade away? Moving onto their own journeys, their own paths only to find them in your life again, stronger and more beautiful?
“And speaking of beautiful, this is a crazy, beautiful world, but you only get to see how wonderful it all is if you take chances. Don’t let opportunities pass you by. You do you, live your life and stay angry and vigilant if you’re comfortable with that but pay attention to the signs that maybe there are messages out there for you. Maybe there are people you need to meet, souls that can add to your journey through life. Souls to help you grow, souls to make you cry. Adding strength to your life and your soul. Just maybe for everything, there is a reason.”
“And you accused me of going on a rant? What the hell was that and where did it come from? That’s the most you’ve said to me in the two years I’ve known you,” Sally says, raising one eyebrow, then lowered them both suspiciously. “Wait a minute. You mean you, don’t you? You think you’re the person that’s meant to be my soulmate?”
I can feel the blush rising from my collar, up my neck and enveloping my face and I am powerless to stop it.
“Is that such a crazy idea?” I ask in a voice that cracks like I’ve regressed to puberty.
“I-I don’t know,” Sally shakes her head like she’s trying to shift the idea into place. “This is all so left field. Maybe we can discuss it over a cup of coffee?”
I pull my phone out of my belt clip, unlock it and begin scrolling, “Um, okay, friend, but just let me check my messages to see if I missed an important text or something.”
Sally’s face flushes with anger but before she can rage at me, I throw my hands up in surrender.
“Just kidding! It’s a joke! I’m joking!” I smile as I put my phone away.
Sally whacks me on the arm hard enough to sting, but she’s smiling, too, so maybe, just maybe, things might work out for the both of us.
Text and Audio ©2017 & 2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys