ESPN did a nice piece about an unlikely friendship between an elderly man named Boston Bill and a young boy named Jake, brought together by a funny word called “fate” and the shared challenge of living life with just one leg. The challenge hasn’t slowed down Boston Bill one bit, and the heartwarming part of the story is how he is teaching young Jake to follow in his, yes, foot-steps.
For your sake, you should probably read the story (and/or watch the video) HERE before continuing with my meandering thoughts.
It seems like most are primarily attracted to the “fate” part of the story, which is admittedly pretty cool, but that’s not what I find most striking. Instead, what gets me is that the chasm between these two people—a chasm brought on by age and simple geography—has been bridged by a common “weakness.” Oh, I know that chasms are constantly being bridged by folks finding commonalities with one another, but I am intrigued by the idea of being joined at the weak spots.
There is great danger in forming friendships at the weak spots. Such a bond can easily become an exclusive club dedicated to either hatred of others or the throwing of pity parties. But I think it carries unique possibilities, too.
I perceive intimacy as something that, once achieved and maintained, is considered a good thing to share with another human being. And what does intimacy involve, if not the sharing of weakness with another? Isn’t vulnerability a prerequisite for achieving true intimacy?
Jake and Boston Bill are unique in that their perceived “weakness” is on display for the world to see. Most of ours are not, and we work awfully hard to keep it that way. As a result, we travel through life looking to connect to people that are either (a) what we wish we were, or (b) like the parts we present to the public. I wonder what kind of relationships we could have if we connected first in the weak spots.
Again, doing so is dangerous. It could easily be a path toward resentment or depression, if not both. But. If infected with the hope of Boston Bill, it could just as easily be a path toward a world far better than the one we inhabit at present—a world where we don’t have to hide so much, and a world where we don’t have to feel lonely in crowds anymore.
Just a thought.