Experiences become complete when shared

This column was originally published as part of my “Looking Homeward” series at Herald-Dispatch.com.

During one winter, my father fell twice on the ice. Although he was not hurt, he enjoyed embellishing the tale by saying that he had experienced one and one-half falls.

Of course he was asked, “What’s a half of a fall?”

And Dad explained, “A half of a fall is when you fall and no one sees you.”

He went on to conclude that everything in life is only half until you share it.

You see a beautiful sunset, and immediately you call someone to come and look at it with you. It’s more beautiful when you share it.

Or you spy the season’s first snowflake and phone a loved one, as my mother did each winter, to share the wonder and promise of it all.

And there’s the drive in the mountains — only half as inspiring if you are alone.

As a youngster, I recall traveling through the snowy mountains of Virginia on Interstate 77. We were listening to the then-popular CB radio for weather and traffic information. Suddenly an excited voice broke in.

“Breaker one-nine,” he called. “Look at that family of deer!”

The two-way radios came alive with people asking for the location of the deer. People all along the interstate chimed in, discussing the beautiful animals standing like a Currier & Ives card, backdropped by the rolling hills.

The driver’s experience became full when he shared it. Happy experiences are only a half until they are shared; then they become full, or complete.

Yet, there’s a flip-side to the half-thing.

For instance, sorrow, grief and unhappiness are made less when shared. When another person listens to our problems, sympathizes with our grief over losses, or holds our hands when the waters are about to drown us, everything seems lighter and easier to bear.

When we take the time to listen, we often hear, “Thanks. I feel better now. Just talking about it has helped.”

Joy is made full when shared, it seems, while sorrow is made less when shared.

Yet sharing requires more effort for some of us. Whether we live alone or just find ourselves alone more often than not, we live an unobserved life.

We go about our daily run of duties, yet no one is watching. No one is around us to know what we’ve experienced, what we think or feel or the joys or sorrows in our lives.

Unaccompanied on our journeys, we must make an extra effort to share our lives.

Electronics help. Cell phones put a friendly voice only a touch away. And with a few keystrokes, you can reach out and touch friends and family through e-mails, instant messaging, Facebook or blogs.

But nothing can replace the warmth of a set of eyes drinking in the details of your latest tale. Or a good bear hug to show you were missed. Or a friendly pat on the back to welcome you.

As the old proverb reminds us, “Friendships multiplies our joys and divide our sorrows.”

Our lives are indeed richer when shared.