I'd gone early to the coffee shop for a change of scenery to do some work. I sat at the little table in the corner, the one I always take if it's available, owing to the plug socket hidden behind the bench.
Not long after I'd sat down and the waiter had brought my coffee over, an elderly gentleman came to take the table next to me. I did what I almost always do. I lifted my eyes and directed my energy toward him. That sounds a little odd now I write it. I suppose what I mean is that I tried to make myself available to a connection. A morning smile. A hello. Just something to acknowledge one another's presence.
But the man didn't notice. Perhaps my efforts were too subtle. Or perhaps he wasn't in the mood for engaging. The waiter brought the man's coffee and I made an attempt to return to work. My eyes were on my notebook buy my head and heart remained with the man at the table, wondering how I might bring us together and why that felt so important this morning.
I looked around the room and saw a sea of people at their computers or phones. It's wonderful, this digital age we live in. So many opportunities. And yet I do sometimes take a moment and look at scenes like this and note how much we pass one another by each day.
I keep glancing over at the man. If he's noticed, he must think I'm crazy. Many times I'll just strike up conversation, but I feel shy about it today. But then the perfect idea comes and I lean over and say, "Excuse me?". He doesn't hear, even though I'm right next to him so I take the next step and gently place my hand on his arm and say, "Excuse me?" again.
He turns and smiles and I say, "Would you mind watching my things whilst I go to the bathroom?". And he smiles again and says yes and off I go to the bathroom. And when I return he says, "Ça va? as they say" and it takes me a second to realise he's speaking to me in French, which only makes me love him all the more. I thank him, feeling that warm feeling in my heart.
Our deepest joy will always come through relationship and connection to others. Because those 'others' are just another part of us. That's why disconnection is like starvation for the soul. It's like being shut off from 99.9% of who you are.
The problems of the world can look so dauntingly big. So impossible, sometimes. And we think the solutions are big and complex, too, and that they're beyond us to help solve. But I don't think they're big or complex. I think they're achingly simple. And I think one of those achingly simple things is to take any opportunity we can not to pass one another by.
What opportunities can you find today?
Love and courage,