Back in the late ’80s I was wondering what it would take for the world to be a peaceful place…for everyone to be happier..for there to be peace in the world. After all, I was a lawyer helping families in deep distress and employers and employees in conflict at work. Litigating who was right and who was wrong…finding and proving blame…was my day-to-day business.
At the time I was living in a loft at Polk and Dearborn Streets in downtown Chicago and working on the 76th floor of the Sears Tower. There was no direct transportation between where I lived and worked. I took a 20-minute walk to work each morning passing others on their way to work. Their heads were bowed down…seemingly with their intention of getting there…getting on with their day and what lay ahead.
One morning I realized that every once in a while, someone passing would look up…actually look at me…then seeming to realize they were looking at me …and registering that I saw them looking at me, they quickly looked down again.
I noticed this. I thought about it…quite a bit actually. It seemed to me that I passed the same people…who did the same thing…just like I did…Monday through Friday.
I don’t remember deciding to do what I did. I just did it.
I began to look at each person intentionally. When they looked at me. I noticed they’d look away. “What if I sent a message with my eyes and my heart,” I wondered. “Would this change anything?”
Out of curiosity I began. Each person I passed…whether they were looking at me or not…inside…silently to myself…I said, “Good morning,” to them while looking at them.
Over the next week I was amazed. Some people I passed began to look at me…to hold my gaze…even nod…as we passed. “Hmmm,” I thought after a week or so.
I wondered what would happen if I said, silently inside of course, “I love you,” while looking at them.
To my surprise, gradually some began to say, “Good morning,” to me. Of course I responded saying, “Good morning,” to them out loud. Over time my walk to work began to bring me joy. I swear I even noticed a special “Good morning,” when I’d been gone for some time on vacation or out of town on business.
This has taught me that, yes, we DO matter to each other…even when we might think we don’t. We are all in this together…and we can lift each other up…even in the smallest of ways and briefest encounters.
Try it…on a walk…in the grocery store while shopping…you get the idea. Just quietly…inside…let the cashier know “I appreciate you” or something you choose.
I promise the world will respond…and…perhaps be a more welcoming place to be.
A question you might ask: Did you ever stop to talk with anyone…or make a new friend?
My answer: No, but my day was better because of it, and I’ll bet theirs was too. I know I felt more connected and not so alone.