A simple, everyday encounter happened a few months ago...and it's stuck with me ever since.
I was driving slowly in a parking lot, about to pass the front of a store. Then, I noticed someone leave their parked car and begin to head towards the entrance.
I could've sped up and gotten out of their way. I also could have stopped for them in a reluctant way or in a way that signaled to them, you're slowing me down...you're in MY way.
But instead, long before I needed to, I stopped. I wanted to give them the space they needed to cross safely.
Then something happened that I haven't forgotten.
The other person paused, looked my way, and smiled. It truly surprised them that I saw them and was ready to stop for them. I hope it happens to them often, but at least in that moment, I think they felt seen.
I can't be sure of course, but it's possible that the last time they were walking to a store from the parking lot that someone sped by or around them because they were busy or distracted.
I've been that person in the parking lot, wanting to get where I'm going safely when someone in a car couldn't bother to acknowledge my existence. It's not a great feeling.
Since that interaction I've stumbled upon scenario after scenario where my sense is that, due to the return of a soft smile or acknowledgment, people simply want to be seen.
It's amazing what a smile and kind eyes can do.
There's solace and reassurance when your neighbors, community members, and fellow humans SEE you. You're not just a blur as others speed by, distracted, on their phones, moving about their busy days. You're a human, with beauty and imperfections.
And I see you.
Even though I don't know you, I see you and know you're doing your best.
Even though we may not agree on many things, I see you and respect you.
Even though I don't know you, I see you and send you love.
The next time you're in a public place: the library, a line at the grocery store, or a busy parking lot, try to put away the distractions (especially your phone) and simply see others. It sounds silly, and it truly is as simple as it sounds, but it could make a big difference and bring a smile to someone's face.
I see you.
I see you.
I see you.