Documentary

11Feb12

The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, Canon Blue, and Arcade Fire are on constant repeat for me lately. Love them.

Today was a weird day. I was walking by the Mexican restaurant in our neighborhood. The main window is right against the sidewalk. There was a woman sitting along in a booth in the window, crying. Admittedly it is strange, given the amount of time I spend in my head, that I tend to also be very observant of other people. It’s like each person I encounter is a potential mini documentary, and I love me some documentaries. Again, it’s an odd mixture because I would consider myself enough of a misanthrope that I wouldn’t want to hang out with them but I am fascinated by what motivates them and what their lives could be like. Maybe I should have been a documentary filmmaker.

Anyway, all this to say that I really wanted to know why she was crying. I wanted to know what was wrong. I wanted to know why she was sitting in the front window to cry and why she was doing it alone. I wondered if she looked out the window in amazement that everyone else’s life was still going on while she was dealing with whatever it was that was making her so unhappy. That’s how I felt after my dad got his liver. I would leave the hospital and just be amazed that everyone else was still going about their lives when it felt so consuming to me. I knew it wasn’t logical but that didn’t change it.

It sounds like some morbid curiosity , nosiness, or a desire to make fun of her or trivialize her situation. It wasn’t, though. It was empathy, the kind of thing I try to pretend I don’t really have. My natural response to seeing someone sad or hurting is to want to comfort them or fix things but I try to keep that soft, squishy center buried deep within my magic shell of protection. Once when I was working at a plant store in Columbus, a woman came to the counter with a wreath and she looked incredibly sad. She got right through my magic shell so I asked her if she was ok. She told me the wreath was for her 16 year old son’s grave, as tears streamed down her face. As I was the epitome of professionalism, I burst into tears as well. I didn’t even know her son, but I was sad that anyone would have to deal with that level of grief.

So often I see people just at their surface level and have minimal interaction with them. It’s strange then to see someone who has let their guard down enough to give you a glimpse into their life if you’re paying attention. It’s one of the times when I feel like I’ve shown up uninvited into someone’s life so I owe them a little respect instead of my usual sarcasm.

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