song: mornin’ by star slinger
read time: 4 minutes
sometimes, i stare off into blank spaces. i stare. and thoughts come to me. this happens on a regular basis. in fact, it happened twice last night. i stared off into the distance, saw some lights, and immediately thought about puesto — a mexican restaurant. all of a sudden, that was my late night craving. hey, i never said that the thoughts were of the utmost importance. but then again, who is to say mexican food isn’t important. anyways, back to my staring habits — it happened again— right now. i am sitting at starbucks. i was staring off into blank space and i remembered a moment when i was standing in line at a starbucks in LA.
i had just experienced major disappointment — the kind that throws you for a loop and makes you feel like the world is crashing down on you. i had just gotten off the phone and my eyes were swollen from the the overwhelming amount of tears. i walked into starbucks, trying to keep the tears from breaking through anymore. although, everything in me wanted to run and hide from humanity, i knew that i would need coffee for the drive back home to san diego. i stood in line and stared off into blank space— hoping, that in the three minutes that passed by, my swollen eyes would become semi-normal looking. they didn’t. as i put my order in, the barista — a total stranger — said, “it’s going to be okay. whatever is going on, it’s going to be okay.”
there. right there.
i broke even more.
the tears i had been fighting so hard to hold back for the past three minutes broke through. milliseconds later, i felt a tear trickle down my face.
while nothing in the world made sense, while my hurt was obstructing everything in my line of vision — i needed those words. i needed the stranger with the unruly beard to tell me it was going to be okay. i needed a glimmer of hope.
i wish i could go back and thank him.
while his words were not necessarily monumental and life-altering, his kindness was. he saw me. he didn’t avoid me, my tears, or the hurt that was spilling out of me — he met it with kindness.
when i think about it — what he did was brave. he could have pretended that he didn’t notice that my eyes were infected with tears, he could have avoided acknowledging that i was obviously having a bad day. but he didn’t. however uncomfortable he might have felt in the moment, he saw that the need was greater. he put someone else’s need before his own personal feelings and met it with kindness. this was bravery — going against human nature to stick to oneself.
you see, too often — we avoid people with problems to avoid awkwardness, discomfort, or something inconvenient. or sometimes, we avoid because we feel like it’s not our place to say anything and that it would be an intrusion to someone else’s personal bubble.
i’ll be the first to raise my hand and say, i do this.
yes, sometimes — i avoid. it’s human nature.
it’s easy for our hearts to break when we see someone struggling, when we see someone having a bad day, or when we see someone going through the trenches. but what if it’s not enough for our hearts to merely break?
i wish i could go back in time and get inside of the barista’s head. i wish i could have listened to his thought process. did he go back and forth wondering if he should say something? did he feel uncomfortable? did he feel as if he was intruding?
i can tell you this —
whatever he was thinking, i am forever thankful that he opted to speak up. his words offered hope — hope that i needed. while he he spoke softly, he spoke with absolute confidence. in that moment, i felt seen. i needed to feel seen. because, heck, i’m human. i was a hurting human at that.
we all are. we are all human. which simply means this, we all have an innate desire to be seen. infact, we were created to be seen.
with that in mind — it’s not enough for us to merely see someone hurting and allow our hearts to break for them. we have to get involved — in some capacity. part of webster’s definition for “seen” is this: to give attention or care.
people need to be seen and we have the ability to be the people who see them, like really see them. we ought to be the people who give them attention or care. because, honest question, if we don’t do it — who will? we can’t pass off responsibility thinking that someone else will step in. if we see a need, then it’s our responsibility to fill in the gaps however we can.
this morning, i stumbled across a quote from leo buscaglia that fits this whole concept of living perfectly. it read — “too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
there’s no doubt it takes bravery to live this way. it’s going outside of what is comfortable.
i don’t know about you — but for me, i’d rather put myself in uncomfortable situations on the regular if i knew that it would turn someone else’s life around. it’s worth it. a moment of uncomfortability will always be worth it if hope, light, and love have been passed on to someone else.
i am the evidence. sometimes, people need you to poke a hole in their personal bubble with your words, smiles, compliments, small acts of generosity, and everyday kindness.
don’t underestimate what you have to give, dear friend. the next time you see someone who has a need — aim to fill it. we are a world full of imperfect humans, which means, today you will probably come across someone that needs an encouraging word, a smile, a little note of love, a compliment, or a little generosity. we’re all in this life together — so let’s stop sticking to ourselves and keeping inside our personal bubbles and comfort zones. if we truly want to make a difference and live an extravagant life with stories to tell when we are old and grey — it’s going to take everyday bravery and kindness.
take courage —
don’t underestimate what you have to offer to the rest of humanity. what you have, people need.
photo by @theyallhateus