As curious and inquisitive as I am, I am not much of a prier when it comes to others. If I’m prying, that’s usually an indication that I am in a doubtful state. I usually just practice focused observation to satisfy my inquisitive nature or general open questions that stimulate conversation as much as they deliver information.
This afternoon, as I stood on the platform waiting for the subway, I noticed one of our receptionists whom I’ve always found to be so pleasant and cordial, but in noticeably authentic way. Some kind of really welcoming presence that really makes a mark. I smiled at her warmly. She didn’t even realize we work for the same giant until I mentioned it. So we stood there waiting and there was a moment, you know that moment where you need to make conversation with a stranger. I was about to say something really formal and expected, like… so pretty busy these days? (the standard elevator question in our corporate culture). In a flash, a string of thoughts ran through my mind. I thought of several T.R. peers that I am lucky to know personally, noted for their ability to reach literal strangers off the street and impact their lives. They’ve been known to take homeless people for lunch and lay out some resourceful tools for them to carry forward. They’ve been known to reach out and change people lives. I thought of a moment in the restroom today when a colleague whom I am told has a grudge against me, flashed me a fake hello, how are you while she ignored the sweet cleaning attendant lady whom I was chit chatting with as I always do. I thought of the older main entrance security guards whom so many ignore. I thought of how lucky I am that sometimes greet me with a sushi Bento box when I work long hours and head home at dark having not had dinner yet. All because I take the time to smile at them despite the gap in our jobs etc. I thought to myself, what were to happen if you just got really curious but asked non standard questions right now, what might happen. She let out a sigh, “Friday…” I turned to her and gently asked what her plans were for the weekend, setting a clear internal intention to be of service.
Her eyes immediately welled up as she told me that she was going to Quebec city to visit her dying mother. “We’re going to say our goodbyes” she told me clearly holding back sobs. My heart welled up and expanded to hold her in a sacred space. I put my arm on her shoulder and told her that my best friend died just this past September and that I understood the kind of pain she was feeling. She looked at me surprised and started to talk. In a span of 10 minutes I learned how her mom was courageous and strong and loving human being whom at 95 had lived a wonderful life. How she bravely asked the doctors herself to stop treatment and that it was time for her to move on. She told me she was terrible with “these kinda of things”, that she was strong in other areas but this was not her forte. I told her how I seem to have a gift for being by people on their deathbeds having done so twice in less than 12 months, but that I full on knew that it is not a calling for everyone. Admittedly, I have no idea how I managed. I just really quiet, centered and peaceful and open my heart up. She looked at me and seemed comforted. In those 10 minutes and 3 subway stations that we rode together, I was given the opportunity to drop pockets of comfort and wisdom in this woman’s heart for her to take with her on her difficult journey. I told her how I’d be thinking about her tomorrow and holding her in my heart. I take with me so much wisdom from those 1o minutes, as much about what to cherish in my loved ones as to what to cherish in myself.
I was half dumbfounded, but not entirely surprised by by my ride home experience. You can make want you want out of this, but I find it hard to exclude the following possibilities. The power of authentic and genuine curiosity, the power of embracing the human spirit in all of its facets, and lastly, the power of divine intervention.