I walk into a grocery store on a summer afternoon. I’m hot, tired and uncomfortable, no makeup, hair hastily pulled back in a clip. I’ve heard that’s what you get to do after you hit 60, and I have to tell you that I’m working it. Just on principle.
I’m pushing my cart down the aisle trying to figure out what to make for dinner that will be tasty and nutritious and low sodium when a kid with dreads and ear buds comes tearing around the corner and narrowly misses me with his cart. What do I do?
I pull my cart back, give him a huge grin and pretend I am playing chicken with him, wiggling my cart back and forth and pretending I am going to crash into him. He looks at me, startled…not believing this grandma is messing with him, then suddenly catches on that I am playing. So he pulls HIS cart back and we both engage in a few minutes of silly play, laughing hysterically.
After a minute or so we high five each other and continue on our respective shopping trips, both lighter for the exchange.
It is my habit to acknowledge every human being I come in contact with in a way that is friendly and open. This is how I live consciously, by validating others.
There are opportunities to do this every day. The majority of the people who make our lives easier every day are used to being invisible. They go through their days realizing that as barristers, bag boys, produce stockers, cashiers , mechanics and service industry workers, their value lies in doing the jobs swiftly, silently and efficiently.
No one cares how their day is going, if the baby kept them up all night, if they have a big test in the morning, if their dad was in an accident, if the kids have the flu, if their husbands got laid off. And then there are the people you see, everywhere, with their kids, on the phone, pushing a cart and listening to music. On the surface we couldn’t be more different. But different does not mean separate.
I know this person in front of me feels the way I do, has the same hopes and dreams, fears and frustrations, joys and triumphs and I want to let them know that I see who they are, not as a faceless robot, but as someone who might be in my own family, and in a way, they are. I want them to know that I see them as the valiant human beings they are, and that they are not invisible to me.
We are all connected in our human family, and we all deserve to be seen and acknowledged and respected. It’s been my experience that if you can show someone that you are willing to risk rebuff, if you are willing to step out of your comfort zone bubble, and invite them to engage, you will very seldom be disappointed.
I don’t mind being the first one to reach out with my eyes, and mind and heart, because I know that I am just like you, and you are just like me and that the saddest thing in the world is to live in separation. I wont allow it.
My path of living consciously means that I connect at all times with the all people I come in contact with. Your smile is my gift, and I am uplifted by our mutual acknowledgement that we are both travelers together in this world, and that our separation is an illusion that can be easily overcome with a pretend game of chicken in the grocery store.
So if you should see a 60 something grandma in the grocery store trying to catch your eye and smiling, stop and say hello.
After all, we ARE family.