I’ve always felt like people are watching me, no matter what I’m doing, even sometimes when I’m alone. As a result, I tend to keep a watchful eye on others, as well. But it’s made me, I think, a more thoughtful and conscientious person. Because only by paying attention can we anticipate needs. I think a lot of people are too busy to notice; they’re in their own little world, oblivious to the fact that when they are interacting with or even near another person, they are actually engaging with a human being. Sometimes we forget that other people have problems just like we do, which may even be worse. We could meet someone and not realize they just lost someone they love. Maybe it was their child. Or maybe they lost everyone they love a long time ago and they just can’t shake the emptiness that fills their life. Who knows, right? Because we don’t know them. But we can help them and thus help ourselves by extending a little courtesy; some understanding, perhaps, of how difficult and tragic life can be. Share a smile, sure. But forgive those who can’t return the favor.
It’s not always an easy thing to do. Some of us get pissed off when we go “out of our way” to be nice and the jack off on the other side of the counter gives us a menacing look. Okay, maybe he is psycho. Maybe he’s a washed out, angry, resentful bastard and he chooses to take it out on you and anyone else who crosses his path. But hey, at least you’re you and not him!
Things could always be much worse, yes. Maybe this helps to explain our haughty interest in other people’s lives. Gossip news, for example, thrives on bad press like love affairs and weight gain (gimme a break). But is any of that really interesting? People are people. Some we connect with and some we can’t fathom at all. Certainly, our happiness relies a lot not on what we’re dealt, but on how we play the cards. If I don’t know the cards in your hand, I’m going to assume mine will trump yours and receive what you deal me with graciousness, even if I do get frustrated with your insistence on being an inconsiderate prick.
If nothing else, a cold shoulder reinforces the importance of being kind to strangers and forcing a smile every now and then, even when it feels like a chore; even when you want to slash the face of everyone you see because they don’t look anything like the only person you’d care to see. We all get along somehow. Life goes on. There’s no point in making it more miserable for yourself and others by being a loathsome wanker.