I am what is known as a “foul-weather friend.” If you tell me your problems, I’ll immediately start devoting a lot of time and effort into solving them for you. I’ve been told that this is one of the nicest and also one of the most annoying/overbearing aspects of having me as a friend.
I justify my actions/meddling by telling myself that as a writer it’s good to understand real life problems. I also sometimes suspect that sometimes I help others because it's an excellent procrastination technique. After all, how can I write that next chapter when the world NEEDS TO BE FIXED BY ME! But the truth is wanting to help has nothing to do with being a writer. I am actually just not big fan of suffering.
Of course, there is a lot of suffering in the world that far exceeds my ability to help. I can’t fix what happened at the Boston Marathon, or in West, Texas, or in More, Oklahoma. When I find myself starting to despair, I can—as Mr. Rodgers wisely suggested—look for the people who are helping and be thankful for them.
And there are also small things I can do to prepare myself to be a helper in the future. It was recently Food Allergy Awareness Week, and as part of it, I learned how to use an EpiPen. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it’s a syringe filled with epinephrine that can be administered to someone who is having a severe allergic reaction. Individuals with life-threatening allergies (such as to peanuts, bee stings, tree nuts, etc.) often carry EpiPens with them, but might need help using one on themselves in an emergency.
You can learn how to use an EpiPen too if you want. It won’t take long. Think of it as good karma, or just as a way you can make the world a slightly safer place. Then watch this video: