As a writer, I like to observe everything around me. Growing up in New York City honed those awareness skills. I was riding the subway with my friends and window shopping on 34th Street in Manhattan before I was a teenager, so awareness was necessary for survival. One of the things I find hard to accept in today’s changing world is how many people are oblivious to the people and places around them. I just don’t get it. I can’t imagine being so caught up in my own doings that I am not aware of who is passing me in the street or do not consider what effect my actions may have on those around me. It’s ingrained in me. I’m a people watcher, I’m sociable by nature, and I take every opportunity to interact with others. Even in a huge, bustling city like New York. But maybe I’m a dying breed. Maybe that’s the reason people are so polarized lately. God knows they don’t seem interested in finding their common ground as they plod through everyday life.
I like to do that. I like to find common ground with other people. And I like to learn from them. Sometimes a person crosses your path at an unexpected moment and says something you needed to hear. Sometimes they teach you something you never knew. But you have to be open to it. You have to believe you can learn something new every day. Otherwise, you don’t grow wiser.
Yesterday I had coffee with a few friends of mine at a local café. We have a deep bond and chat about very deep things. But yesterday there was a new face across the table. One of our friends brought along a newcomer. Would she be open to our candid girlfriend exchange? Or would she feel funny when we delved into childhood secrets, religion and family dilemmas? I liked her from the start, but I never expected to leave the café feeling so enriched by her presence. (I felt like I was back in high school and just met the coolest new friend). This woman is the granddaughter of a former South American president. She is a career woman and a personal friend of one of the largest cosmetic moguls in the country. She is charismatic, attractive and successful. But that’s not all. She is grieving the recent death of her father. She is a breast cancer survivor. She has some family turmoil. Being Hispanic, she has even encountered some prejudice in her life. So she shared with us. She laughed with us. She even wept a little at one point. And we learned from her. Maybe she learned from some of us. How beautiful life is when you appreciate your connection to people. Yesterday, each of us probably came away from the table with something different, but what a great gift we were to each other. For that moment, and for some purpose.
All for the price of a cup of coffee. Wasn’t that time well spent?