When you take a moment to sit back and see people, I mean really see them, you start to see some pretty amazing things. And then you start to wonder what their lives are like. What contributed to their style? What made their personality? Why were they having whatever conversation you were eavesdropping on?
One day when I was riding the 5 train home from running errands in Manhattan I saw something so beautifully unique and happy that I couldn’t help but notice. A little girl with blonde curls and her obviously loving and doting father. The girl was dressed as a princess in light pinks and blues with a lovely tutu. She was sitting on her dad’s lap, who towered over her as a gentle giant. His nails were painted (presumably by or for his little munchkin) in white and black, with what appeared to be hearts in alternating white and black on the fully painted nails. It was charming in the way that you cannot help but adore a good father when (you think) you see one.
I am short on thoughts today, but I’d like to think about where this young girl and her father were headed on that day. What made the dad decide to paint his nails? Did he have another daughter? Was the girl dressed up for an event or just because she decided that was her outfit for the day? (I really hope it was because that was her outfit for the day.) It’s the little stories that surround us day in and day out that we sometimes don’t even bother to notice much more indulge in extrapolating a story for them.
Or even better, ask what their story is. Another subway ride home from work on the 5 next to a family and a young boy who was jittery. The mother was overly upset with him because he kept fidgeting and kicking and asking questions (at one point he accidentally kicked me, but it was not a big deal). I was tired and doing my best to ignore the entire situation until they got off, when I changed my mind. The mother was unnecessarily aggravated, the kid was probably sick of being yelled at for being a kid, and the whole situation seemed to demand a little tension relief. So I turned to the little boy, and asked him where he was headed. At this point he immediately became quiet and snuggled up to his mom in shyness. She knew him better and pushed him to answer my question. As it turned out, they were headed to see Frozen on Ice. And his sister could not tell me enough about it, which eventually got him into chatting. And the incessant “are we there yet?” questioning and bouncing around and kicking stopped. He just wanted to be recognized and to have someone engage with him. It wasn’t too hard, and I hope that the mom appreciated the reprieve as much as the kid appreciated someone wanting to hear him chatter on about something that made him excited.
So…whether you are noticing the people who surround you or instead engage them and create a moment, I think we can do more to make every moment in our lives that much better. Human interaction is so much greater than we give it credit for, and we often take it for granted as well. And don’t forget, kids are great storytellers.
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