How to Be a Human.
October 23, 2012
I sat in a plaza yesterday, behind La Moneda–Chile's version of The White House.
Diagonal paths come from all directions and meet up in the center, before darting off in opposite directions.
People walk gruffly, generally ignoring one another–cell phones, busy faces, stern looks, fast paces.
And just like in plazas everyday across the world…
…And that would be the way I would begin the story if I were poetic and fluffy and really liked cliches and other happy horseshit.
Except I'm not poetic. I'm not fluffy. (Well, my arms are a little fluffy.)
And what I want to say isn't poetic or fluffy because most things in real life aren't.
What I want to say is about a person I had the pleasure of meeting recently.
A person who looks a little bit like Jesus, talks to airline staff like they're dear old friends, politely sips his wine at the same pace as you, runs up to kids juggling in the park to tell them good job, makes friends with everyone in the room, calls cousins from halfway across the world on their birthday, remembers everything you say, goes out in the middle of the night to buy more champagne for you and your friends, donates frequent flier miles for karma, asks permission to use the bathroom every single time, volunteers while on international vacations, is fiercely loyal to his sports teams, has a life syllabus planned out for his future children, and knows that you should never, under any circumstance, use a metal spatula in a frying pan. (Which he tells you after happily volunteering to cook everyone breakfast.)
I also imagine he's the kind of guy who helps strangers change tires, carries groceries for little old ladies (for sure), and uses condoms religiously. (Is that an oxymoron?)
He's also the kind of guy the world could use a little more of.
He's the kind of guy that saunters right on into your existence, and by the time he saunters out, he's changed you. Maybe not forever, like I would write if I were poetic and fluffy, but, then again, maybe.
Regardless, you know they've affected your life in some profound way–whether you can identify how or not.
And yesterday, after I left him at the bus station and said goodbye, I went and sat in said plaza.
And there I sat for 15, 25, 35, then 45 minutes.
Thinking. Pondering. Petting the adorable fucking dog laying next to me. And realizing that, too often, it's too easy to hide.
Behind our tunnel vision, our emotion-devoid faces, our own insecurities, and the fear that maybe the other person isn't going to reciprocate.
Any one can do that.
Anyone can do average.
But what's not easy–or average, for that matter–is extending your hand to other human beings, reaching out, and saying, “Hi. You're important to me. I see you. I hope you see me, too.”
Even when it's the anonymous customer service lady on the other end of the line.
And, among others things, that's one thing this Jesus-looking, sports-loving, internationally-volunteering, anti-metal spatula man taught me.
If they aren't seeing you, perhaps they're simply waiting for you to see them.
Then, of course, it's just a matter of running off to write a blog post you say isn't going to be poetic and fluffy–even though that's precisely what it is.
Because maybe, in your own little way, it's how you see them back.