I was sitting in the waiting area at the bank. A woman came in and sat down across from me. A minute later, she moved over to sit next to me. (I didn't question this as the seats on the other side had the line of customers right behind them.)
The banker came out and said, "I can help whoever is next."
We looked at each other for a moment. (Usually, the second person indicates the first person is next.) As I started to get up, I said, "I am."
She raised an eyebrow and said, "Oh. You were next?"
You sat across from me and then next to me. I never moved. I'm not hard to miss. 😳
At first, I thought this was funny. The more I think about it, though, it's a little sad and even kind of scary. Things happen so fast, now more than ever. Opportunities can be missed. Accidents can happen. We spend so much time looking down. What else are we missing if we don't even see the person sitting next to us?
For so very long now, we've talked about how technology is bringing us closer and closer to people farther and farther away and how this virtual togetherness has created a gap in our real lives.
My own experience is that I used to talk to my mom on the phone every day. Now we text. There's no real connection there. I don't hear her voice, or her laugh, or the silly things she says that are usually too much to type. The check-ins are better than nothing, but...still.
So...what are we doing about the gaps? We keep looking down. Down at our phones. Down our noses. Down from the faces of loved ones as well as strangers.
We're living in a difficult time. There's a lot of hate all around us. People we thought we knew are saying and doing things we never imagined they could. People who have been influential in our lives and/or communities are speaking out in increasingly negative ways. Decades of progress and compassion are being chipped away moment by moment.
Let's not let the gaps be filled with hatred, fear, ignorance, and apathy. Let's look up. Never underestimate the power of a sincere smile. Say hello to people around you, even if they're not looking at you. Make eye contact - with strangers and loved ones alike. It is our responsibility to make things better for our kids - our community of kids. If we don't want the hatred to spread to the next generations, we need to be the ones who stop it. Be kinder than necessary. Give more than you take. Find small ways every day to show love, appreciation, gratitude, compassion.