Anticipating the first sip of coffee, I took a moment to glance at the sunshine streaming through the local coffee shop’s front window, before beginning the work I had brought. My eyes caught sight of a twenty-something young man occupying a green chair. The sunlight illuminated his boyish face and blonde hair. With his knees bent, book propped, half-finished scone next to him, I noticed this patron wasn’t reading but was fast asleep. I found myself staring at him and smiling. He just looked so content.
Suddenly jolted awake, he quickly looked around and our eyes met. We both smiled, a crimson red now engulfing his cheeks. “I am glad you woke up. I haven’t gotten a thing done because I was just watching you. You looked so peaceful,” I blurted out across the table.
In that moment, it seemed the din of the crowded café stopped, the roaster quit, the espresso machine waited…and the room went quiet. And all I could think was, “WHY the HELL did I just share this INTIMATE thought with a random STRANGER in front of everyone?”
I held my breath. Then, he laughed. I laughed. We conversed. Another customer smiled warmly. Others chimed in. I gladly exchanged my one awkward moment of being uncomfortable for a morning of delightful conversation with strangers.
As I drove home from the coffee shop, I replayed a brief encounter I had had with a neighbor a few years ago. One day when my young daughter and I walked by our neighbor’s home, we exchanged a simple hello. My family and I had moved in almost two years ago but we rarely saw him. He had recently begun to take interest in tending to the outside of his home. My daughter and I continued on our walk and he returned back to the care of his front yard. In the months that followed, I learned he committed suicide. I kept revisiting that moment when we passed by his house. What if I had remarked about how great the yard looked? What if I had taken the time to stop and connect? Maybe it wouldn’t have changed the outcome, but if everyone he had met that day shared a smile or connected from the heart or showed genuine interest, maybe it would have eased a small part of his pain.
With all the bombardment of negative reports in the media, I sometimes feel disempowered. What I learned today was that it doesn’t cost anything to speak from the heart. I learned I want to live with more courage. I learned to live in the moment rather than from a place of fear. When it comes right down to it, if we really knew what someone was going through, wouldn’t we all take the time to show them that they matter? We need to be seen. We need to be heard. We need to “be” LOVE. As I pulled into my driveway, I listened to John Mayer’s “Waiting on the World to Change.” Today, I vowed not to wait.