I’ve been on vacation for the past month, traveling around the world to a variety of countries. Each was beautiful in its own right with its own culture and customs. In addition to sightseeing I spent a lot of time people watching. I found myself wondering about the lives of the people who I met, such as:
- The 30-ish year old woman in Thailand who peddled food, drinks and small knick knacks from her boat on one of the canals
- The young children in Japan, dressed in traditional attire to receive a Shinto blessing at a local shrine
- The shaman in Mexico who excitedly showed me a recently discovered cave that had been used for Mayan ceremonies many centuries ago
- The breast-cancer survivor I met in Greece who was celebrating two years without cancer
- The young man sitting in the streets of Venice, sitting with his head bowed, silently asking for a handout
- The old man praying devoutly in a church in Salisbury, England
Each was dealing with the realities of his or her life. As much as I tried to put myself in their shoes and see the world from their perspective, I realized that I would never be able to, since we are all unique beings that perceive and respond to life and its experiences in our own individual way.
However, I realized that it doesn’t mean that we cannot connect with another person. As humans, we all share the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, and a desire to be loved and accepted as who we are. We want our loved ones to have the best life possible. We stop to notice and appreciate beauty – however it is that we define it.
Connection comes through compassion and empathy, the foundations of love. Even a smile or nod can help us to connect with another, and open the door for deeper understanding between two individuals. And so I connected:
- I shared a laugh with the woman in Thailand
- I played a quick game of peek-a-boo with one of children in Japan
- I matched the shaman’s excitement about the cave, and learned more about an indigenous culture
- I talked with the young man in Venice about his life…and gave him a few meals
- I acknowledged the old man with a polite nod and smile, which was reciprocated.
How do you connect with another?