“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” -Ian Maclaren
Call me paranoid, but I’ve always felt like someone is 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 and increasing our awareness can we anticipate needs and come to understand others.
Unfortunately, I think a lot of people are too busy to notice what someone else might be going through; 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. At times we also tend to interpret other people’s actions and reactions as a personal affront, as though they don’t exist outside of our exchange with them. Sometimes we forget that other people have problems, which may even be bigger than our own. We could meet someone and not realize they just lost someone they love; maybe it was their child; 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 jerk 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 by nature who chooses to take it out on you and anyone else who crosses his path. But hey, at least you’re you and not him!
People are people. Some we connect with and some we can’t fathom at all. 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. Because we know what it feels like when common courtesy isn’t returned.
Certainly, our happiness relies a lot not on what we’re dealt, but on how we play the cards. So if I don’t know the cards in someone’s hand, I’m going to assume mine will trump theirs and receive what they deal me with graciousness… even if I do get frustrated with their insistence on being a loathsome wanker.