Apr 30 2012

I notice you

I was driving home from dropping my son off this morning and I saw a young man walking down the street in the rain.. He was punching the air, like someone who is boxing. From a distance I thought he might be having an early morning workout. As I drove closer, I could see the expression on his face. He looked deeply pained and  angry. He was clearly yelling at someone or something and he looked as if he might be crying. I could feel it.  He was seriously having a really bad day. I thought about him on the rest of the drive home. I wondered what his story was, what had hurt him or frightened him, or enraged him so much that he had taken out his punching gloves at life.

I started thinking about the woman I saw driving in her car months ago. I had pulled up to a stop light and had glanced over to my right. Her car was even with mine. She was staring straight ahead and she was crying. Uncontrollably sobbing. I wanted to roll down my window and ask her what was wrong. Not out of curiosity but just out of basic human compassion. I wanted her to know that she wasn’t all alone. I fought the urge as best I could, knowing that it would probably be inappropriate according to our social norms. Instead I just drove along side her for the next couple of lights trying to send some type of psychic message to her of love and comfort.

There are people who walk around everyday thinking they are alone, insignificant and that no one notices them. They think because they are smiling, or walking fast, or talking fast or sitting in the back of the room or hiding in the crowd that no one really sees them, the real them. I notice you. Lots of people notice you. A person drives into a drive thru and orders their drink. You recognize a tone in their voice and you sense their happiness or that they are  holding back a cry. You meet someone on the street. They say hello and you make eye contact. You see the light in their eyes immediately or you see that they are on the verge of tears. I am certain that everybody has this gift of knowing. We just don’t act on it all of the time. Why? For one, the social norms we have in place create a barrier. They’re not a bad idea. They establish a comfortable space between you and everyone else. They allow you to choose for yourself staying at a distance or moving closer both emotionally and physically in a very safe way. They allow for the respect of another persons privacy and personal space. Sometimes what you think someone needs is not what they need at all. If I had ignored these norms, I would have tapped on my window that day and called out to the woman in the car next to me and asked if she was ok or if she needed to talk for a moment. She might have been perfectly fine expressing her emotion driving in her car. This might have been the perfect time and place for her to have a private moment, something she has a right to have. Sometimes freedom to be who you are and express how you truly feel is a hard place to find and she might have had perfect freedom in her car.

After I made my turn away from this woman in her car I wondered if she knew I could see her. Then I thought, if I can see her, oh my gosh, that means people could see me. If they could see me, then someone saw me crying in MY car the week before as I drove home from my dentist appointment. I like my dentist, he’s fantastic, but I don’t like the drilling and the drooling and the gagging on my spit. I don’t like the freezing and the laying there trying to answer questions that are asked of you while your mouth is pried open and the suction tube has turned your tongue into a prune. I laughed and laughed at the idea that someone might have seen me sobbing in my car and it was about something as simple as not enjoying my dental appointment. I am such a baby!

The point is this. I know that I walk in this world alert and aware. I know I am not the exception. If you ever for a moment think you are alone, or think that you are invisible. You are not invisible. I notice you. I may not say anything, I may not approach you because I don’t want to pry, I am trying to respect your privacy. You may think for a moment that you are small and insignificant but I NOTICE YOU.

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  1. Maureen

    Beautiful and inspiring post!!!

  2. Anthony

    I love your blog! Very uplifting message!

  3. Cindy

    Beautifully said. Makes me want and need to sit up and take more notice!

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