“I see you.” ~ Greetings by the N’avi in Avatar
A while ago, I became friendly with a homeless man named “Happy.” Legless but full of joy, Happy was forced to move from New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina.
So his family, having been in the area in the past, moved to Asheville, NC. There, he set up shop on a daily basis in the same location next to a bus-turned cafe, asking for money so that he could pay for a motel each night for his family.
The first thing I noticed about Happy was that the people who took the time to interact with him genuinely enjoyed each moment spent. Not everyone interacted with him this way though.
While a very liberal place, not everyone can or is willing to give every homeless person change, or even, their focus if only for a second. After conversing for some time, we moved onto the topic of those who ignored him.
Happy revealed to me, “You know, I really understand if people don’t want to or even can’t give me anything. If only people would acknowledge me as a person with a smile and ‘I’m sorry, I can’t help you.‘ That would be enough to make my day.”
On a recent trip to Philadelphia, I was walking with friends down the streets and had to use Happy’s reply to several homeless: “I’m sorry, I can’t help you.” A friend, being of a similar spiritual nature as myself, began using the comment too.
This observation made me wonder. How many of us are simply unaware of how we treat fellow human beings on a daily basis? Unconsciously, are we numbed by the stress of our daily lives (work, family, time) or even the overwhelming majority of people who look back at us with the same blank stares?
Human beings are social beings. Evolutionarily speaking, we depend on our fellow humans in order to survive in the world. Especially now in the days of specialization, dividing tasks has created a dependence on others. Despite what some may or may not contribute, being human and having “life” makes each of us special. Ignorance and numbness create more suffering in this world. Awareness and acknowledging everyone’s human-ness can only make the world a happier place and you, a better version of yourself.
Try this. Make eye contact and smile at every individual who passes by you on the street. Work up the courage and sprinkle in a “hello” here and there. Some common responses that you may receive: the individual may look behind himself to see if you’re talking to the imaginary person behind him; or out of unexpectedness, a stutter of “He-he-llo” as if trying to find the words from the depths of one’s vocal cords. But imagine what one recognition of someone could do for that person out of a thousand other blank stares in any given day!
We each can make an individual’s day by simply recognizing the “human-ness” in that person.
7 Ways To Recognize Other’s Human-ness
- To the homeless: Look at them in the eyes and say “I’m sorry, I can’t help you.”
- To passersby: Make eye contact, smile, and say “Hello.”
- To your neigbor/mailman/garbageman: Smile and wave.
- To your waiter/waitress: Ask for her name. Most don’t expect it.
- To those you just meet (if courageous enough): Shake hands … shake with both hands … give a hug … f*** it and kiss them on the cheek or the neck.
- To a forgotten friend or associate: Send an unexpected message saying how much you appreciated their time or efforts in the past.
- To your significant other: Say “I love you” at least everyday, Carlos Mencia forewarns us.
Namaste ~ a Sanskrit word, commonly used by those involved with Yoga or Hinduism, meaning “the Spirit in me recognizes the Spirit in you.”
How have you gone out of your way to make someone’s day?