One day I stopped at a sandwich shop where wholesome sandwiches, with a variety of breads, cheeses, and meats, always made delicious meals. The bread is fresh baked there and fills the restaurant with alluring aromas. With that kind of “atmosphere” the employees are always cheerful. That day there was a friendly woman behind the counter taking my order.
At that time I used a cane to take some weight off of my left hip and back which reduced the pain when I walk. My back has improved since then thankfully but at that time I couldn’t sit on hard chairs or benches. So I told the woman to wrap my sandwich so I could take it home. She asked about the cane. So I explained to the cashier that I had back problems.
The lady smiled and told me she literally knew how I felt. We immediately shared a few of our similar woes, helpful tactics in dealing with the pain, and how we had been injured and how we were feeling now.
Her work history had always involved her being on her feet. I sympathized and mentioned I had been a nurse for 36 years. I had no regrets because I was doing what I was called to do and loved doing what I did.
Her eyes lit up and she said, “That’s wonderful!”
It feels good to share some things about ourselves when we feel safe to do so. Often it is just reassuring to know that we aren’t the only one who has had severe pain. Sometimes I get the feeling someone would enjoy even a brief conversation. Timing is important though. There were no other customers when I came in so it seemed a good time to chat.
After a few minutes two more customers came in. Since I had paid for my sandwich, I moved nearby to wait, away from the line. I felt better because of the genuine smile and feeling of empathy we shared because we reached out to each other and formed a kind of experiential bond.
I think we all have some of the same or similar life experiences in common with each other. If we can share a little about ourselves with people we feel led to talk with, we may be able to eventually tear down some of the walls so many feel right now. And even if it doesn’t we have shown ourselves to be kind and friendly.
One never knows how what we say or do might positively or negatively affect someone else. We never know when we may see someone later who remembers us as the friendly or kind person who spoke with them when they felt lonely.
If we all tried to reach out to others just as people, instead of pushing our beliefs, ideologies, or prejudices on others, we might all get along better. I grew up in a family who sincerely loved each other. I grew up thinking of my neighbors as family too. This may be a bit too idealistic but trying to carefully look at others as potential friends may not be a bad idea.