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n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.
“When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble: … and you will be right more than half the time.”
In the book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey tells the story of being on a train one day. While on the train, there were two very noisy kids causing a disturbance to everyone around them. Covey noticed that the father was doing nothing about it, and after a period of restraint he approached the father. Here’s Covey’s account of the situation:
“Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you couldn’t control them a little more?”
The man lifted his gaze as if to come to a consciousness of the situation for the first time and said softly,
“Oh, you’re right. I guess I should do something about it. We just came from the hospital where their mother died about an hour ago. I don’t know what to think, and I guess they don’t know how to handle it either.”
Can you imagine what I felt at that moment? My paradigm shifted. Suddenly I saw things differently, I felt differently, I behaved differently. My irritation vanished. I didn’t have to worry about controlling my attitude or my behavior; my heart was filled with the man’s pain. Feelings of sympathy and compassion flowed freely. Everything changed in an instant.
originally posted by: Kharron
a reply to: Grambler
Thank you all for reading and commenting.
And yes, Grambler, sincerity is paramount, in all aspects of life, be it in business or when offering help and understanding... a shoulder perhaps. If only there was a way to turn back the cultural tide where dishonesty is slowly, but surely, becoming as acceptable as honesty is. It almost does not matter any longer.
P.S. I also have an orange bedroom. Very similar color. Love it.
originally posted by: Flyingclaydisk
a reply to: Kharron
I'm not sure why I feel like this is somewhat related, but I do. I work in a highly emotionally charged environment. I joke sometimes that we can see more emotion in a span of 5 minutes than most other people will see in a year of their lives. It's true too. Happiness, anger, fear, sadness, anxiety and just about every human emotion there is. It can be numbing sometimes (especially after 30 years). The odd part is we usually only get a few moments glimpse of any single person or group of people.
A few weeks ago I was walking to a meeting and observed this stunningly attractive woman. But she was completely consumed by grief of some sort. You could tell this was not some ordinary type of grief, but rather something very profound and life changing. It was like she wanted to just climb out of her skin (don't really have a better way to describe it). I had several minutes of exposure to her on a train, long enough that I felt like I truly wanted to see if I could comfort her somehow. But she was a complete stranger, and it wouldn't have been appropriate to intervene.
In that moment, something struck me like never before. I realized that even though there was this strong connection of empathy for her, as I stepped off the train I realized I would never see her again. I would probably never see her, or anyone in her family, or anyone she ever knew. I don't know how to describe it really, it was like this powerful thought. Here was a life, a person, who lived in a world I knew nothing about, no names, nothing. In the span of 3-4 minutes I went from wanting to make a moment of her life better, to knowing I had seen this person for the last time in my (or her) existence. It was weird, that feeling. It was like being so close, and then suddenly so distant, all in a flash of a moment.
When I stepped off the train I looked around and suddenly every single person I looked at was essentially the same situation, I would likely never see any of these same people again...ever.
Now, you could walk down any street and maybe think the same thing of a passing stranger, but this was somehow different, not because of her particularly, but more because of my own revelation of sorts. And, I think part of the power of the moment was because of the emotionally charged environment I referred to initially (and it is VERY much that).
Again, I'm not sure why I felt this relevant here, but I believe somehow it is.
In the span of 3-4 minutes I went from wanting to make a moment of her life better, to knowing I had seen this person for the last time in my (or her) existence.