My boyfriend and I were in line at a bagel shop yesterday when an elderly gentleman in his 80’s approached us. He had very gentle demeanor about him, which he expressed through his giant grin, smiling eyes and soft southern accent.
“Where do I know you from, son”, he said to my boyfriend, “have we met?”
My boyfriend gets this often as he is an actor and has been featured on a number of television shows over the years.
“You probably know me because I work on television”, said the boyfriend.
“Ahh yes, well you must have worked on mine. I live right over there on Lee St”, the man said as he gestured towards the south. “Does that sound familiar?”
Ha. So honest.
“I don’t think so”, my boyfriend said smiling, “I actually work on television as an actor, not as a repairman.”
The gentleman still wasn’t quite accepting it. “Well, son, I don’t watch much TV. Were you in the military? Maybe we crossed paths there?”
“No, I wasn’t in the military. Hmm…I was on JAG a few times? Did you watch JAG?”
“No, no, no”, said the gentleman, “that’s not it”.
Television as a common ground was quickly set aside and the gentleman decided to focus on military service as a topic, and that was fine with us. It was Memorial Day, after all. He told us, with pride, all about his life in the military in the 1940′s. He spoke of duty, he spoke of racial injustice (he was the first African American to serve at his post), and he spoke of raw sacrifice. He even spoke of karma, which the philosopher in me quite liked. His story was a powerful one and I felt very blessed I was given the opportunity to hear it.
We chatted for a while, then bid our farewells and parted ways. I was quite moved by the brief encounter, not only by the innocence of the approach, which was awesome, but by the light that flickered in his eyes as he told his story. It was very touching and I loved the unexpectedness of sharing a truly authentic moment with a stranger.
And that got me thinking… How often do we make ourselves available to connect with the people around us?
I repeat myself when I think its important, so….really, how often do we make ourselves available to connect with the people around us?
There are so many interesting stories available to us at any given moment, and we are usually so caught up in our heads and our agendas that we don’t see the opportunities to genuinely connect. Some of you out there are masters at reaching out to perfect strangers, and I applaud you for it. (Please keep at it, because you pull the rest of us out of our shells.) But then there are many of us that isolate ourselves without even knowing that is what we are doing. A big part of life is about connection, so why don’t we reach out and connect? Is it fear? Insecurity? Ego? Or are we simply so preoccupied that that we leave minimal room for anything beyond our thoughts?
Something to think about for sure.
Anyway, thank you my friend in the bagel shop. Thank you for pulling me out of my head, away from my agenda, and in to the moment with you. What an unexpected pleasure it was to listen to your story.
Happy Memorial Day a little late. The deepest of thank you’s to those who served.