To The Point With Michael Hogan

Michael Hogan

A couple of weeks ago I broke my glasses. I could barely see a thing. It was strange; as I made my way across campus on those sunny days I focused on the shadows that stretched across the concrete tiles of the plaza. I couldn’t really tell one person from another so I didn’t see the need to look at hazy unrecognizable faces. Looking at shadows made more sense. As I watched those darkened shapes cut across the sunlight it got me thinking. Who exactly is it that is attached to those shadows?

It seems it happens too often in today’s world that we become lost in this flood of humanity. Of the countless people who make their way through our lives every day we manage to make actual connections with only a small percentage of them. What does it matter if we don’t acknowledge everyone we see? This is probably what you are asking yourself. Well, these connections, as simple as they may be, could save a life. The reason I bring this up is that September 9-15 was National Suicide Prevention Week and I have been thinking of ways we can all help to prevent it.

How hard is it to make eye contact with someone and smile? It is not hard at all, and it takes barely any of our precious time from us. It may seem to most that a smile and a nod are nothing substantial. But, there are people all around us who feel as if they are alone in the world. To these people something as simple as a warm “hello” can mean the world. I know. I have been there. I was once one of those faceless forms who drifted through the world. I was once only a shadow in the background of existence. In those moments when the world was crashing down, when I was spiraling in the complexities of life, those simple acts of kindness were a lifeline.

I know the subject of suicide, inside and out. I have known a handful of people who have seriously contemplated it. I have known a few who have attempted it. I, myself, nearly drowned in those feelings of isolation, been disoriented by the seclusion. There was a time when there were no smiles, no nods, no hellos. Things are different now. I have people around me all the time that I know care deeply for me. Those simple connections with the people around me have made all the difference. That love and understanding are the reason I am here to write this today.

I am not asking you to go out and have a drink with every person you see. I am not asking you to go out and have a drink with anyone you don’t want to. I am just asking you to acknowledge the presence of the people around you, it that really too much to ask? You’re not too important to smile, you’re not too cool to say “hello”. No one is more important than another life.

So, I guess what I am saying is, follow the shadows on the ground. Find the feet that they are attached to and look into the eyes of the person who owns those feet. For all you know that may be someone who will change your life. It may be someone who will teach you something, who will make you smile. It’s not a difficult thing to do. Just be kind.