So, if I could, I’d love instead to title this piece, “7 Reasons Why We Are Afraid Of Our Fellow Man.” But I don’t have the answers. In fact, I simply wonder how our society has become the way it is… and maybe, if we can answer this question, we can start looking into answering, “What, then, can we do to change things?”
So… wait, what was I going on about again? Ah, right. Our fellow man. Well, as tends to occur, I had another revelation while making my way around our beautiful city. If you know me, you know that I like to walk everywhere. I was minding my own business, listening to something nice on my wireless and marching along when I began to take particular notice of the life around me. As you guys well know by now — I meditate, which I strongly encourage to all of my clients and friends. One very important thing that meditation teaches you is to be aware of the present — the sun on your face, the wind caressing your skin, and the thousands of people around you creating that beautiful hustle and bustle that is life.
The thing is, today, I didn’t see that hustle and bustle. I saw a thousand different humans, all with aspirations and families and stories. Humans who woke up with a dream, or maybe today were too tired to dream. As I was walking I decided to play a little game, to apply mindfulness to my stroll, and so I began to become ultra-aware. I started to take note of their expressions. Eyes straight forward, lips sealed. Eyes staring downwards, phone in hand -zoned out. Everyone in their own little bubble. Bubbles aren’t bad — I like bubbles. But what is bad is that that bubble is a shield. Walking around, people don’t smile at each other — in fact, they do just about everything possible to avoid each other’s glances. The only time someone talks to you is either if they really know you or to complement your assets. It’s sad.
The funny thing is, I still remember how in high school, you’re always hyper aware of what people think of you. How you look in relation to them, the differences in your speech, your popularity, your family fortune. But we’re not in high school anymore. The problem is, at this point, elevator conversations no longer exist. Random friendships made in the street no longer really…exist. We all share at least one mutual friend: our “smart” phone, which has done just about everything but make us smart. In no sense do I under-appreciate technology and all it has done for us, but I also cannot ignore that a detrimental repercussion does exist.
I don’t know about you, but I feel that it’s quite wrong that I feel strange publicly starting off into space to enter thought, rather than staring down at my phone to enter Instagram. We’re slowly becoming less human, I think – seeking connection less – now that we coexist comfortably with a telephone that is never gonna judge us. We’ve found an easy way out of awkward elevator rides with strangers, of where to look when we walk, but I feel that if anything, the phone has completely hidden from our view the real solution here — to stop being so damn afraid of that spontaneous glance or conversation.
It’s beautiful to walk around and realize that each person you pass has a life of their own, dreams of their own. It’s beautiful to share a smile and maybe even make their day. It’s amazing to meet a new friend simply because you ended up riding the same elevator. Stop being so afraid that someone’s going to judge you. If they do, they’re not even worth your thought because they’re immature, and for your information, probably a thousand times more self conscious than you are.
So make friends — I urge you. And I don’t mean on Tinder. Talk to people. There are so, so many incredible individuals out there that have a lot more in common with you than you think, and like you, are probably just scared to start a conversation. Plus, you never know who you might meet. I would have never met most of the important people in my life if I hadn’t made the decision to step outside of my comfort zone and simply enjoy the company of another human being. Life really becomes beautiful when you actually allow yourself to experience it.
So start doing it. Get out there. Live! That’s where the magic happens, after all. And please don’t be afraid to start a conversation with an interesting stranger because truly,
“Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” -Bernard Baruch-