Lessons From People Watching

I have been working on a new book that should be out soon. The central concept of the book is telling stories of people that I encounter on the highway. I imagine what sort of person they are, what life they have led, where they are going. I try to realize that they too are just going about their day and trying to get through it just like I am. On the highway we are all the same and we are all different.

In spending so much time people watching and getting into the heads of these little characters for the stories, I’ve come to appreciate all the little things that make us, us. 

There are days though when seeing the humanity in others is particularly trying. Those days when clients are outrageous, kids are little devils, coworkers are just dumb as rocks and it feels like the only person in the world that knows what they are doing is you. It is those days when it is nearly impossible to see any one as human. 

It has been a rough week around here. The usual culprits; money, kids, work. All the same stressors that will never go away, but we can really hope they settle down a bit. Those days when every single person encountered is a total idiot have grown into whole weeks. 

It is easy to see the bad portions of humanity on these gloomy days. The selfishness, the greed, the broken and misguided minds we so often encounter take center stage when bad days come around. Let me tell you, it is really easy to write about those parts of people. The emotions there are easy. Anger, hate, suffering; straight up dark side stuff. 

These are fleeting aspects of our humanity though. 

Tonight, after a rough day at work for both my wife and me, we said nuts to cooking and opted for fast-food burgers and a movie. Sometimes eye lids are just a bit too heavy and energy wanes.

As we sat for dinner, the baby wandered around our short table. He’s taking one or two steps at a time now, cruising to where he wants to be before crashing to the ground and landing, not unlike a cat, on his bum. He scooted to a toy on the table, picked it up and excitedly waved it through the air. He squealed with glee, making the best noise possible. 

As he waved the toy in air his tiny, no motor skill having hand slammed into the table. He squealed in pain. 

The firstborn was engrossed in cheeseburger and Harry Potter when this happened. As soon as the baby started crying, the four year old climbed out of his chair (nearly falling out of it) and went to his brother’s side. 

“I can kiss it. You’ll be better,” he told the crying baby. 

People are good. We have within us the ability for great caring, great compassion and great love. It is easy to forget this, but there is limitless good with each of us that is always there. 

I’m going to return to my writing and remember that even on those days when every one sucks, there’s hope things will be different tomorrow.

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