I work in an environment where, if one's not careful, we begin to judge others by their appearance or a mistake made in an off moment or, for some, in an attempt to step up on the backs of others to look better themselves. So many folks go through life waiting for a moment to shine in the sun and never experience a feeling of belonging to the warp and weft of life. And so many folks have made mistakes and gone down crooked paths and beg for a chance to find their way home, but we are reluctant to change our first impressions of who they are. We are afraid of what we don't know or what appears to be strange.
The gallery I am a member of is located in an area of town where colorful, off-beat and downtrodden folks tend to hang out. They wander the streets aimlessly, some holding complete conversations with themselves...some wrapped up so tightly that no light shines within their face. On Sunday, while working my monthly shift, I thought I would make an effort to engage these folks from the front door as they passed. I was rewarded with toothless grins, cautious nods and short conversations. But mostly I was rewarded with gratitude that someone had paid attention to the fact they existed.
I helped a guy tattooed all over and dressed in leathers take a photograph of his friend who had entered a doodle on our doodle wall contest. I listened while a man told me all about how he had lost thirty pounds just by exercising, because he sure hadn't stopped smoking or drinking or eating, and he never would, by golly. Then he told me an off-color joke, grinned and walked away whistling. I admired sweet dogs and listened to stories as they walked by my door. All folks that I would normally pass with a brief smile and go my own way.
And at the end of the day, I found a smile on my face and peace in knowing that we are all traveling this life road together. We share the same ups and downs. Some of us have a few more bumps in the road and take some wrong turns, but in the end we are all human. And why not take a moment to share a bit of time and a listening ear to a stranger....we can all benefit from sharing what we gather on our individual journeys.