On a recent trip I came to realize the overwhelming need for people to connect with one another regardless of age, race, social status or gender. People like to talk, help each other, tell stories, smile warmly with acknowledgement of the other. The desire to say hello, have a nice day, how are you. The people who choose to remain quiet, disconnected, appear to be the individuals wired up to their cell phones, ear plugs tightly encompassing the inner auditory recesses of their minds. Plugged into someone far away, unaware of the people directly in their presence, their energy mingling with theirs, auras cohabitating within the same space, energy vibrating with life and living. Pure natural energy generated by human life. Energy requiring, searching for, embracing human contact.
I have come to know myself as a seeker. A seeker of knowledge, adventure, creativity, discovery, quiet and solitude. I love to “people watch” everywhere I go and to sit quietly observing human interactions. I seek opportunities to connect with others, to listen to their stories. These are some of the stories of the people I spoke to along the way. Stories that inspired me, stories that warmed my heart, stories that gave me pause and sadness, stories that simply made me smile.
The Woman From Hawaii
Sitting, having lunch at a rather large and crowded restaurant, I noticed how many elder men and women were tirelessly working at jobs that required endless hours of walking, cleaning, clearing and sweeping. They appeared tired, their limbs obviously sore and aching, many pausing to rest when ever the opportunity arose, then quickly scurrying away to clean again. As one woman approached to clear my table, I acknowledged her presence with a hello and thank you, smiling. At that we began to converse. I learned her life story of how she came from Hawaii to Nevada. She told stories of Hawaii and her life there, her face lighting up as she spoke. I shared my short experiences of my visits to her homeland and asked about the work she does here. I learned about her retirement plans, her husbands work, her family, pension plans and other interesting topics. I learned a little bit about her without ever knowing her name. In a room filled with over 200 people, I connected with one. I have to say it was the loveliest part of my day.
The Man From India
Riding the bus on our way to shop and eat, I had the pleasure of sitting beside a gentle elderly man. The bus full of people, crowded and noisy, filled with individuals from every culture, catching their accents playing softly and harshly on the outer lobes of my ears. My spouse and I discussing where we would get off the bus. Quietly I heard a voice say, “The bus signs are usually wrong.” As I turned to the gentle man sitting beside me I repeated what he said to ensure I understood him correctly. He explained the bus system and the signs and suggested we watch rather than depend on the signs to find our way. I thanked him for the information and a conversation ensued about his life here. Our visit was short but again I noted his desire to connect and be helpful. To simply acknowledge another and be acknowledged himself. A delightful ride. A gentle helpful encounter.
The Couple From Korea
Not a gambling person, I decided to give a slot machine a go. The machine began to spin and play loud music, chiming and spewing dragons and fire. Unaware of what was going on, my face probably looking dazed and confused, a couple sitting next to me were obviously overjoyed and attempted to explain as best they could in broken English, what exactly was going on. They cheered and were overjoyed with my apparent situation, a situation which continues to leave me in the dark. There were large Chinese symbols on display and I think they were trying to explain their meaning because I am sure I heard the word lucky. I found it interesting that a simple slot machine could somehow connect people in time and space and joy, all with the prospect of someone being lucky and winning money. Despite the language barrier, they appeared delightfully willing to go out of their way to help a confused, older person. Willing to connect with joy and enthusiasm. Thanking them for their help, I cashed out my $20.00 winnings and wished them good luck as they continued to play on, hopeful that they would soon win too. Their joy was palpable staying with me long after leaving the hotel.
The Man at the Concert
As I entered the arena with 16000 seats about to be filled with people from around the globe, I located my place among them, met by a man sitting animated and loud, boisterous, in my seat. As he did he not intend on removing himself, he directed me to sit in another seat as he was engaging in delightful conversation with his friend. So where is this going, I asked myself calmly, really wanting to sit in my assigned seat to prepare for the concert of a lifetime. As I sat beside this full of life man in the seat next to mine, he immediately began invading my space, story telling of his colorful life, the famous people he knew, his religion and politics, his career, life travels, future ventures and jokes. I think he did ask me one question about myself which only led to more adventurous stories of himself. Sometimes its best to just be quiet and listen and pray he would move to his own seat soon. And sometimes when people assume speech that is degrading to people of other cultures, it is best to speak up and say, “I do not agree with your view on life and I find your comments offensive.” I tried very hard and with determination to remove the negativity that permeated my energy. Thank goodness for Andrea Bocelli, for as he opened to mouth to sing, all trace of negativity quickly dissipated. I am grateful for the encounter none the less as it reminds me to speak my truth and to advocate for kindness, acknowledging it is not my responsibility to change the views of others. It is simply to provide an alternate positive perspective on life and living.
There were many other conversations along the way with people stopping to say hi, how are you, where are you from, how long are you here for? To share a smile, a glance, acknowledgement of their presence here in this place and space. To share their energy. Some too tired, overwhelmed, stressed or sad to verbally speak out loud. To notice body language, eyes full of joy or filled with sadness, anger or frustration are conversations that occur deep inside. The faces of poverty and despair, loneliness. Love. The people you meet, the people you greet, the people you acknowledge without judgement by giving what you can, a small part of yourself. Seek and you will always find someone to connect with, to brighten your day, to brighten another. The people you meet. Enter with an open heart. Leave with a singing soul.
Quotes obtained from Pintrest.com