This I Believe

Michael - Davidsonville, Maryland
Entered on September 7, 2006

To me, it feels like I know everyone.

You know that familiar feeling… it’s the same feeling you get when you bump into an old friend. Hey, I know you. Your face is familiar to me. How ya been?

For me, that familiar feeling happens every day… with everyone I see. Complete strangers appear as if they were long forgotten school-mates.

It wasn’t always this way, but now that it’s here, I’m learning to deal with it.

And, I’ve decided that this very weird feeling is a strange gift, and while searching for it’s meaning, I’ve been compelled to write this piece.

Six years ago, I experienced a brain injury after a strange virus caused seizures. You may have heard of meningitis & encephalitis. Take it from me, it was not much fun… but I did get better, thanks to modern medicine and the support of my wife. However, there have been some weird, lingering side effects. One of them is that I feel like I know everybody.

Of course, I realized pretty quickly that I really don’t know everyone… it just feels like it. No one can see it, so the only people who know about it, heard it from me. If I just keep my mouth shut, no one will know.

Over time, I learned to discount this feeling. I began to ignore it, in hopes that it would go away. On the rare occasions that I tried to explain it to someone, I felt awkward and vulnerable. Some people would say “this is a great gift,” or, “it’s a wonderful mystery,” and “that proves we’re all connected spiritually.” With an interesting symptom like this, people are fascinated… but the whole truth is that most mental issues scare people away. It’s just not normal.

Then one day, I decided that maybe this feeling might really be an opportunity. Maybe I could learn something from it. Sure, in the grand scheme of things, it’s pretty insignificant. But in my mind, it follow me around everywhere… so, what should I do with it?

Recently, I decided that I would simply care about everyone more. I’m a realist… I know that I’m probably not going to change the word in a way that will justify a monument, but maybe if I care a little more – – about everyone – – then maybe I can help make this word a little bit better. And, maybe, just maybe, if I write this piece, and tell other people, maybe a few of you with ponder the idea, and wonder what it would be like if you felt like you knew everyone.