I was traveling this weekend and found myself people watching, which is one of my favorite pastimes. I admit that I look at people … I look at their faces. Who is happy? Who is sad? Who has worry lines? Who easily smiles? Who is stressed and tense? Who is healthy and who looks ill?
People watching is a normal activity. Judging and assessing them, making up stories based on your own cultural beliefs, or your standards and ideals, is not. Drawing conclusions about the character of the person, based on their ethnicity, manner of dress, physical appearance, or logo’s on their clothing or accessories is where we sell ourselves short.
Why? Why is it that we are selling ourselves short? Because we are never present to the miracle of life that they are. We judge and assess people based on that one specific moment in time, given our benchmarking of their outward qualities. We are not “present”, or aware of, the innate goodness of humankind, or to the possibility that someone is.
For example there was a young girl with unkempt hair, scraggly, and not really clean, to my standards. Her mother was pulling her along, and she had this little pull-along rolling suitcase. Her shoes were too big, her socks fell down around her ankles, and her coat was ragged and torn. But impeccably clean.
I immediately went into a dozendifferent stories about her life, her mother’s life, and why she was not taken care of the way I relate to life.
And as I watched, the mom reached for her wallet to purchase some food, and was shy by a few cents. Her embarrassment was obvious. The little girl was whining and begging.
I reached into my purse, pulled out the required change, and the transaction was complete. But I also tucked a $20 dollar bill into the mom’s pocket, to ensure that they would get where they were going on full tummies, not empty.
Why is this relevant to you? To our community of bariatric weight-loss surgery patients?
Because we have the experience in life of being judged and assessed for our bodies – the size, shape and abundant contours (or lack there of). We have dressed to camouflage our figures, apologized for being the way we are/were, and have learned to be successful IN SPITE OF being very noticeable – and judged. We have felt the stares of strangers, the well-intentioned comments from “concerned” family and friends. And our feelings have been hurt as we confronted situations and circumstances in which we have found ourselves, trying to fit into airplane seats, car seats, movie theaters, clothing, buffet lines, and formal attire as we pulled up the Spanx to try and hold it all in.
We know, first hand, what discrimination is about – regardless of race, color, creed, religion, intelligence, education, professional acclaim or financial abundance.
We have lived this story, first-hand.
This all flashed before my eyes in a Nano-second as I looked at this little girl who had such sweet, big, innocent eyes.
And continued with each individual that I interacted with as I checked in, went through security, purchased an item from, or sat next to. I watched humanity pass in front of my eyes like a parade.
Each individual soul, carrying whatever burden or joy there was to carry for that day, concerned about a future that had not yet happened. Regretful or resentful of a past that had already happened, and that is gone – never to return again – but the pain still lives on in the present because the memory is not yet healed.
Humanity. In all of it’s glory. In all of it’s wonderment.
You and I can make a difference. We have overcome. We are the warriors for what’s possible. We have reclaimed our right to a new legacy.
It is up to us to pass this on, to pay it forward to another, in whatever way we can.
It might be a sudden smile, reaching out to hold a door open for another, saying “thank you” and calling the person by their name on their name tag, or even putting in a coin on a parking meter for someone’s car so that they won’t get a ticket. It could be buying Starbucks for the next car in line, or any other random act of kindness.
It is up to us. We have reclaimed our future.
What random act of kindness might you do for a total stranger, who does not know you, and has no way of acknowledging you?
What can you wake up to around you, and gift to another, simply for the joy of being alive, and having the ability to do so?
Random acts of kindness have nothing to do with money. You don’t need to be rich, or buy anything or even pay for anything. Random acts of kindness are truly gifts of the spirit, an unknown gift of kindness that no one will know who to thank. The gift is in the surprise, because they alter another person’s experience of being alive.
The gift of you is always the best gift of all.