Talking to an elderly gentleman at my mother’s apartment building today, I was reminded that everyone has a story, and most people need very little prompting to tell some of their story.
Maybe we have a need to tell our stories. It seems to help us sort things out, to share our grief and pain, and to remember and celebrate our joys and blessings.
Perhaps we also need to hear the stories of others. It makes it possible to get outside of ourselves, to share someone’s pain and lighten their load, to celebrate with them, and to learn something about people and about life.
This particular gentleman usually just talks about the weather but must now feel comfortable enough to open up a little more. He had lived in India, lost a friend at the Pentagon on 9/11, and lost his wife a few years ago. He talked about how good things are for us in America and gave a few striking examples from his own life to support his opinion.
Here I was about to complain about the lousy weather with below zero windchills and slippery roads, and this thing called perspective hits me in the face again. I don’t consider any conversation unimportant, but I really love when a conversation causes me to “consider my ways” (or thoughts), count my blessings, and shift my thinking to align more with the person I want to be. (not a complainer about the weather, among other things)
Of course, it is easier when I catch this myself and don’t have to have it pointed out to me by someone else. Either way, I am grateful to be propelled forward, to be helped along in my quest to “be the change I want to see in the world”.
The philosophy of this gentleman’s late wife topped off our brief conversation. She always told her husband that we should treat everyone we see as if it were their last day on earth. To do this, of course, we need to slow down, really notice the people in our lives, and remember that their lives matter.
Bringing our focus to the present moment and the inherent value of each individual helps us to see with new eyes and appreciate what we see. Each encounter we have with another person can be an opportunity to give something of ourselves and to receive and grow at the same time.
Whatever benefit or pleasure my new friend obtained from our conversation, I am convinced that the greater benefit was mine.