What makes a thought worth sharing? Or writing about? Does it have to be comprehensive, well-researched, and proven? Hold answers to the questions it suggests?
I know what some of you may be thinking.
Has this guy ever been on the internet?
For a certain kind of people out there, having a thought is reason enough to celebrate and share. Sure, fair point.
Let’s follow a different lead then.
Do you remember the first days of the pandemic?
Back then, I reflected a lot on friendship. The reason was simple, we had just relocated to Germany months before. Didn’t know anyone here, didn’t even speak the language. All of our friends were a three-hour train ride away in Poland. Reachable distance. No problem.
Until governments closed the borders to curtail the spread of the virus.
So I thought and wrote a lot. About the illusions and impossibilities of virtual friendships, about strangers turning into friends, and the way people bond in the unlikeliest of circumstances. And how little control we have over our lives. Only I didn’t publish any of that. Each page went straight into the drawer.
My thinking back then went something like this: This is all too fresh; the world’s too crazy right now. What if I’m wrong? Soon we’ll be headed into the second round of lockdowns; everybody’s on edge, high on cabin fever, and, frankly, the odds are that I’m going mad.
But shouldn’t you publish something? Share what you’re going through?
No. That wouldn’t be professional. Besides, what if someone reads this long after the pandemic is over and thinks I’m still this weird person?
What do I know about friendships? Nothing, really.
It’s for the best if I, erm… put some distance between myself and the problem. Wait until a more objective time.
Only that time never came.
Old friendships survived, and new ones flourished. Complete strangers became the people who were there for me when I needed friends the most. And I’ve no idea how it happened.
What I’m certain of, however, is that this difficult, confusing period would have been the best time to write about it. And sharing it. Not because I had any solid answers or foolproof advice, a recipe for nurturing friendships during the pandemic. No. But because my honest observations could’ve helped someone else out there. There were so damn many lonely and desperate people on the /r/berlin subreddit. People in similar situations to mine. If only I gave them a prompt to act or consider a different perspective. Instead, I clung to the identity of an expert, a man with the answer, someone who doesn’t publish raw, unedited material.
Now, let us get off our high horse. No one has the responsibility to be the savior of the nation, and thinking too much about what could’ve been is a quick path to guilt and regret.
This piece is about a minimum viable observation. Not a book-worthy breakthrough in understanding the human condition, backed by years of studies. Rather, something personal and not always pretty. Small and yet big enough to be valuable to someone else.
Given all the shit I’ve gone through and the state it left me in, I may never be the kind of writer I aspired to be.
But I can still share a piece of writing. Like this one. Doesn’t need to be perfect to be valuable.