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In Their Shoes

May 23, 2013

I watched a video someone put on Facebook the other day and it really made me stop and think more in depth about other people’s lives. Normally I’m a people watcher anyway as I wonder about what folks do for a living or if they’re happy with their lives, but I don’t usually go as far as this video did. It was filmed in a hospital setting and didn’t use a voice over. Instead it showed phrases such as, “Just found out she has cancer,” “His spouse is terminally ill,” and “Visiting dad for the last time,” as it went in and out of different scenes depicting various people. The point it made was unmistakable. We never know what’s going on in other people’s lives as we pass them by on the street, in a store, or even at work.

Someone may have just received bad news about a loved one, or their self. Others may have gotten news that a friend was in a tragic accident. Still others may have just learned that their child was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. We never know what’s going on in another person’s life as we walk past them traveling our own path. Sure, vaguely we might get a glimpse of them out of the corner of our eye. But how many of us really look, really see, someone else.

Yet, if we really looked at their face would we see the lines of worry etched deep in their brow? Would we see the hooded eyes, or their pale complexion? Could we see the effort it is taking them to walk, or the trouble they are having picking up items? Are they struggling to keep their composure? How hard is it for them to keep tears from falling on their sunken cheeks? If we looked in their eyes would we notice the light has gone out? All the more reason to treat everyone with kindness; one never knows the sorrow another may be experiencing because we don’t walk in their shoes.

Would we perceive, or even care that they are having trouble concentrating on a simple task because their mind is wondering how they are going to make ends since the lay-off? Do we see them at all, or are we so busy going about our day that we have blurred them into the already fuzzy background? How sad when we don’t take time to acknowledge others who cross our path in life. But we don’t walk in their shoes so we don’t have to care, do we? Well, that’s a shameful excuse, isn’t it?

Instead of excuses, crossing anyone’s path is a perfect opportunity to offer a soft smile, or hold a door open. Such simple acts of kindness we often pass up the opportunity to offer. Yet, it could mean so much to someone whose life has taken a turn in a direction we can’t fully comprehend because we don’t walk in their shoes. However, if the situation was reversed and you just found out a family member had been in an accident, or your spouse was diagnosed with an illness, wouldn’t a smile from a stranger be enough to brighten your day for just that moment? For just that moment you wouldn’t feel so alone standing in your shoes.

Because no one knows when an unexpected event will suddenly throw life into a tail spin. Things happen that we don’t plan. And it’s those times when a passing stranger’s kind word or warm smile could mean so much to us. Next time someone crosses your path, no matter what is going on in your life, remember to really look at them and smile. It will brighten both of your days.

We only walk in our shoes, but it doesn’t mean we have to step on others. Smile, nod, say ‘hello’ anything to let someone know they are important enough to be acknowledged. Because they are, and so are you. Aristotle said, “Virtue is excellence at being human.” And friends, we need to get better at being human.

Can you imagine...seeing life in their shoes?

Smile, it’s so simple. | |



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