What if I left my house each day assuming that I’m surrounded by a bunch of walking miracles, truly amazing people? The people I sit by on the subway, the clerks at the stores I frequent, the others at the communal table in the coffee shop with me, not to mention my friends who are (obviously) the most scintillating of the teeming masses on this spinning planet … these are one-of-a-kind specimens of humanity. And often I forget to be awed.
What if I took the time, or moved beyond my own head space, to really notice people and — beyond that — to even celebrate people’s victories? How infrequently we do this, and how huge an impact it makes when we do. Let’s start a movement of attentiveness!
There’s a Bible verse that talks about rejoicing with those who rejoice. People need (neurologically need) other people. People need co-rejoicers for those days when anything goes right. When the project gets done, the anniversary of victory over an addiction approaches, the CD gets produced, the kitchen drawer gets cleaned out… whatever it is that they are struggling to complete. Nobody is handing out trophies for our accomplishments, much less for the normal stuff of life.
I have such fervor and passion for this that I could explode. We are all out there trying so damn hard to get through the day, to live well. And sometimes we’re bleeding inside even as we try to look able, chipper and appealing.
High school students are grinding through their paces being assessed (generally as “not good enough”) at every turn. Young mothers are slapping bows on kids’ heads and taking them to play group hoping that their progeny’s behavior will not preclude them from being invited back to the circles they want to break into. People are running the gauntlet trying to kiss up to bosses who seem to hold their futures in careless, sweaty palms. Adults may be regressing to preschool levels when they visit parents whom they never expect to please. Folks are showing up day after day to work china jobs that are not scintillating, chosen, or high-paying because they are faithful and steady and just doing the next right thing. None of those are small things.
We all want someone to pat us on the back, don’t we? I feel a huge lift from a simple, “You’re doing great.” Yesterday someone said to me, “You’re a good girl.” It struck a beautiful note down deep in my soul. I’m a woman, of course, and not a girl. But even the most competent, adult-like of us want to be a “good girl” or a “good boy.” At least I think so.
Maybe we can notice when someone has been toiling without recognition (perhaps at cleaning the toilets in our favorite restaurant) and say a simple, “Thanks.” Or have a party to celebrate someone’s book being published (especially when we wish it were our book).
I want to notice the things that others are quietly and joyfully bursting over (and could use a shout-out or a party for). I’m tired of playing it cool and keeping my compliments or praise inside me. Life is truly short and people need to hear that we think they are incredible. Not cheap sentiment. Not words thrown away profligately. But genuine appreciation for someone amazing. Yes, speak it, people.
These are the heroic acts of cheerleading, the amazing moments when we dare to defy the isolation that is often inherent in our busy days. I crave them, and I celebrate them,.