When is the last time you were out somewhere, a grocery store, on the street, in a mall or restaurant and looked up to find you had almost bumped into someone you knew. When you catch a stranger’s smile, even on a bad day, and you can’t help but beam a reflection back because their smile is so brilliant and coming from deep within their soul. What a happy little surprise gift that is so easily missed when living in our own little worlds….be it stuck inside our heads, intent on getting done what is “needed”, or attached to an electronic device.
When I was working on a cruiseship, surrounded by virtual strangers from many different countries and cultures, I had received some concerning news from home about a dear relative. We were waiting to hear more results from the doctors, and though I was concerned I thought I was still putting on my pleasant happy face, wishing everyone a good morning, good afternoon and good evening as always. What shocked me was the number of my shipmates (some I had never even really spoken to other than that pleasant exchange of greetings as we passed in the underbelly of the ship on the way to the mess) that instantly stopped me to ask what was wrong. The hugs, love and support that I received from these virtual strangers, also away from their family amd friends, was more than I am sure I would have received at home. What made the difference? Why so much support there? How could these strangers or, at most, aquaintences be so spot on at reading exactly what I needed at that very moment?
They looked up.
I looked up.
We made eye contact every day.
There may have been accents, cultural differences, different roles and tasks on the ship, but through that moment of daily interaction where we looked into each others eyes as we passed in the hallways, there was a connection that was pure, with no other intention other than to connect to another human being.
As I sit here this morning and reminisce about my time on ships I am grateful for the reminder to myself to look up and enjoy this world I live in.