Sitting in Starbucks getting some work done and I looked up to see an older man approaching the door. Just as I expected him to open the door to walk into the shop, he stuck his hand out and greeted the soldier in fatigues sitting by the door. Immediately the young man stood and the older gentleman clapped him on the shoulder. It was obvious they didn’t know each other and though I couldn’t hear the conversation from inside, I could still sense the deep respect and appreciation they had for each other. The pair stood talking for a few minutes and the older man pulled out something for the young man who politely and with apparent gratitude accepted the gift. Another hand shake and shoulder clap, the pair began to separate. Just as the elder turned to walk away, not head inside, the soldier called him back and reached out. I’m not sure what he said but another strong and meaningful hand shake and locking eyes – there was something real shared. They parted again and the brief moment was over.
My day seemed brighter and after a few days of witnessing disappointing interactions both online and times between my own children, I was encouraged with hope that for the most part, people do care. I just needed to look up to notice.
In the day to day it is easy to get bogged down with nitpicking and drudgery. The bickering, harsh criticism, and lack of grace can be what stands out around us. Today I have been reminded to look up, step back and observe for a moment. Stop trying to work and fix things and instead see what may be happening that I didn’t need to manage. Like how my 10 year old set the table without any prompting this morning. Or how the 5 year old cheerfully showed her 3 year old how to do a new trick she figured out yesterday. And the 12 year old that complimented the 14 year old’s thoughtfulness and the 10 year old that asked engaging questions while looking at brain scans with our brain scientist friend staying with us, listening intently without complaining about his heavy accent and not getting bored. Then there was the kind words of the doctor encouraging my daughter that her injury isn’t the end of her dancing yesterday and the friend that just went to bat for Jeremy and I when someone attacked us as negligent and stupidly bad parents that let our children be abused. I was discouraged that I was drowning in work, too many demands on my attention, and depressing human interactions. But I’m not, I just need to look up.
And like the soldier and his elder, I need to put my own positive interactions out there, taking risks to give encouragement and vulnerability because I believe this world is a place worth looking up.
Where does beauty surprise you? Do you forget to notice the positive around you sometimes? What helps you remember to look up?