I just finished reading a text from a close friend who’s going through one of the hardest times I can think of, preparing and planning for a loss. While I don’t believe anyone is a “little ole me” that life kicks around, it can still feel like it, and that matters. I had an appointment that day at the only time we had to talk about it. To be honest, I was undesirably relieved. I’ve been afraid to talk about death since 2004.
I wasn’t sure what support I could offer. I knew I had nothing to say that could remedy the situation or provide some kind of fix to see it through. I felt powerless like I couldn’t make the difference for a friend. Someone I’ve always worked hard to be a good student, teacher, listener, and comrad of.
I put my phone down and met with my client, but the whole time I was literally in a panic. I internally repeated the phrase “I have no idea how to help. I don’t know what to do.”
If I couldn’t offer wisdom from my life, what would I say?
If I don’t know what to say, how am I even helpful to talk to?
If they see ME struggle to help, then will they still feel support from me? Or will it feel worse knowing even their friends have little understanding or insight to offer?
Unstoppable force, meet immovable object.
After I finished with my client at the gym, I sat. I just sat on a rower and pondered. What was more disturbing? The fact that I didn’t already know how to help in an impossible scenario or the impossible and inescapable scenario that my friend was facing.
Here I was, a few days earlier, writing about introspection and becoming the person you want to be. That the person you aspire to be in the future is the same person who makes the aspirational decision now. It starts now.
As if expecting an answer back, I took a heavy sigh and said out loud “What do I do?”
I knew immediately that I had asked the wrong question.
I stood up and repeated. “What would I do?” I would stand here and ask a better question!
So I did. With a tingle in my arms, I asked out loud to an empty gym (but the entire universe)
“What would the best version of me do?”
I would cancel my appointment that day and text them to call me. And I would take that call, not knowing what to say, not having memorized an article from google about loss. I would just be there and talk. If something came up that could help, then it would, if not, I would deal with it then.
Somehow, I spoke on that phone call without much thinking. Like inner Jeff took over and knew what to say. They were all things he knew, lessons he had owned.
“What’s the mission? What are we all going to work hard for, while we still have them with us?”
“What does that look like? What’s needed to accomplish it as fully as we can in the time we have?”
“Now, what practical steps do we need to take, to start building that vision? Who do we need on board? Let’s get them on board. Since we’ll all know the mission and vision, you can let people know what’s expected and why it’s important.”
“Things may get hard, they’re gonna, but there’s still work to do. Let’s approach this and show up as the best version of ourselves.”
I created a business out of a vision I had…we can take their vision of what the best outcome of this scenario would be, and build it.
There was more dialogue, and then their words at the end of the call hit me like a sack of bricks.
“I’m glad we talked, I feel better about walking into this”.
I can talk to you about fitness today.
I can tie all of this together at the end of the post about decisions and health and eating.
But, I’m not.
It’s okay to not know what to do.
It’s okay to just have water in your eyes for a friend when you have nothing else to give them.
But, if you still feel stuck, if that’s not enough for you. Try asking “What would the best version of me do?” and just do it, whatever it is. Even if you’re scared of showing up looking like you have no clue what to do.
You may not have a solution. But now you’ll have the gift of action.
Go hug someone you love.