I was feeling a little emotional today, worrying about my family as my grandfather is going in for heart surgery. I was on the subway and a Trinidadian gentleman in his 40’s was standing near me. He had very loose jeans that he had belted tightly at his rib cage, and a baseball cap. He was talking clearly about getting married. He said, “I am not going to invite George, George is a bully. I will invite Lorell, she’s nice. I need a marriage license”. I could see people were uncomfortable, looking away or trying to move away. A woman looked at me and shook her head and mouthed the words “i thought he was on the phone”. Normally I would have jumped in sooner but my distraction kept me quiet. Finally I met his gaze and said, “congratulations, marriage is exciting”. He looked down at me and we started talking. He asked me where he could get a marriage license, and if he should invite George. I said, “NO, George is a bully”! That made him excited and he said, “you know George??? he bullies me, what should I do”? I told him to tell George to leave him alone, and then to avoid him and not to invite him to the wedding. He then told me he was a police officer and had his car at 41 division. He said good bye and jumped out at Bay Station.
An older, portly gentleman moved to the seat near me and said “that was a beautiful interaction, he just needed to be acknowledged and validated”. I agreed and said we all do. Most of the people around me were smiling. At the next stop a woman was exiting and turned to me quickly and said, ‘you have a beautiful heart’, and then was gone. . She is right. I do have a beautiful heart. So does she for noticing that and acknowledging me. So does the gentleman who was moved by the experience, and the people who were smiling around me. We all have beautiful hearts. We are just scared. We are so afraid to look stupid, or to be judged by the people around us. When you are dealing with someone who has challenges, there is always a risk. Yes, this man connected to me and we talked. He just as easily could have screamed obscenities at me, and that could have been embarrassing.
We risk embarrassment. But at the end of the day, the possibility of connecting with other human beings and making them feel special outweighs that risk.