Mom once told me, "You can't depend on anyone but yourself, so don't expect people to be there for you." I was 16 years old at the time and her words took me by surprise; not so much because I didn't want to believe her words portrayed a world full of cold uncaring strangers, but more because I felt she was telling me I could never count on her again. As if she was admitting she wasn't the person I always thought she was.
I didn't believe her, then. But I do now.
It's not that she was saying the world is full of cold people. No. She was giving me an example of some earlier advice she'd given me, years before. That no one knows me the way I do, and to survive in this world I have to be my own best friend. She wanted me to be independent, self-sufficient, self-sustaining. And consequently I had lots of time to contemplate her words. Time alone, in my room, in the darkness of my basement bedroom, listening to the music of the 60s and 70s.
During the years that followed, I put her words to the acid test. In times of trouble, I reached out for a warm, friendly hand. Surrounded by people, I often (but not always) found myself alone, unable to connect with others. At times I felt people didn't care. And during those times, I heard one song playing in my mind. "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" by Simon and Garfunkle. I heard it every time I reached out, alone, and found no one there. Through the sound of my tears, I heard the words, Sail on silver girl, Sail on by, Your time has come to shine, All your dreams are on their way, See how they shine.
Now I know what she really meant.
Bridge Over Troubled Waters