In the heart of the big city nearest me there’s a bagel shop whose high stools are mounted on a raised platform next to its windows, on the other side of which early in the morning, uncountable numbers of people pass, all either heads down or peering at their cell phones.
They’re hurrying to work mostly. Anyway the expressions on their faces make it seem as if that’s where they’re going. They never look up at the buildings they pass. They never look up at the sky over their heads. Certainly they never look at one another. I can sit with my coffee and a bagel for a whole hour and never tire of looking at them.
“Humans!” He must think. “These busy humans rushing about! They look so earnest!”
Well, humans ARE earnest. It kills me to see how earnest.But if it’s true that we are earnest, we can also be frisky at times:
Take the guy who pulled up beside me in the parking lot of the medical center where I went for blood work last week. He turned off the car and before getting out lifted a hip flask to his lips and took a long pull. This was at six o’clock in the morning. “Hope he’s not one of the doctors!” was all I could think.
Or take the two people who parked on either side of me at the little pond I love to visit. The woman climbed out of her own car and into the man’s. The intensity with which they then kissed – for a good four or five minutes – might have told the story by itself but seeing how their shoulders then began to slump and their conversation to flag anyone could tell that these were stolen moments.
“Give it up!” I wanted to call over to them. “This won’t make you happy!” But they would have thought I was crazy. And anyway how did I know what I was looking at, really?
You can look and look and still not know what you are seeing. Why? Because people are mysteries, sometimes even to themselves.
A blogger I admire wrote me last week to say he was glad to see I had ‘broken out of the darkness that pervaded some of [my] pieces for a while and was back to [my] usual sunshine and brightness.” Dim-visioned human that I am, I didn’t know I had been writing out of a place of darkness.
But then we are often the last ones to know how we ourselves feel.
We rely on those loving others, who are watching not the sky, or the buildings, or the people in neighboring cars but us.
They are watching us. And thank God for such people in our lives.