For the untold stories of people

This blog post has been hours in the making.

It is not anything Earth shattering, so don’t get your hopes up.

Flannery O’Connor once said that if you have survived your childhood, you have enough material to write about for the rest of your life.  Flannery must have had a much more interesting life than I.

I am tapped out of people to write about, so this is a wish post of sorts.

There is a barista at Starbucks who is an interesting fella. He constantly changes his appearance. His hair goes from short to long to dyed to none at all. He has a beard, a goatee, a handlebar mustache, or is clean shaven.  He cares about how he looks. A handsome guy, really. He’s a voracious gamer of sorts. The type who plays Magic, The Gathering, and other similar card/board games. I wonder about his story.

There is a hipster who often sits at Starbucks. He has red hair and a red beard. A cap and a cardigan. He sits down with his laptop and his fingers fly without stopping. So much to say. For hours. I wonder what all that typing is about.

A little old woman frequents the grocery store I go to. She is formally dressed. Jewelry and matching earrings, and matching fingernail polish. She walks with a can, and it must take her hours to shop for her meager meal for the evening. I wonder if she has a family or friends and why she is always so dressed up. I want to know about her, and I wonder about her story.

Of course, it is none of my business. Then again, maybe, in another way, it is. When you are a little kid, barriers of communication are relatively nonexistent. When I was a kid, you’d go outside. You’d see a kid riding a bike, or at the playground. You’d go up to them and ask them if they wanted to play. Then you would play, maybe become friends for more than a day, or maybe not. But, in the end, you at least would have had a good experience and met someone new.

We don’t do that as adults. We see lonely people all the time. We see people who are stressed out. We see them scrolling through their phones looking at other people’s lives. And that’s all we really do…see.

It’s hard to write stories based off of 100% observation and snippets of overheard conversations. You have to capture a great moment, like a great photographer. The People of New York capture the stories of New York citizens, but it is novel. It is something that is done for a book/Facebook/whatever. It is interesting, and a lot of people follow it. But why? Why is it so unique? Why can’t we have these conversations with people we don’t know? Why isn’t that norm instead of the exception to the rule?

If I were more outgoing and daring, maybe I would. But, I’m too feeble and meek to do anything of the sort. I have always lived my life on the sidelines; it’s just who I am. It’s a pathetic wish, but I really do wish people would hug more. Talk more with each other with the understanding that quality listening has to take place, too. Conversation is a cycle, not a one way street. More connections, more caring, and more understanding.

If you are sitting at table looking sad and lonely, I want to be that guy who would ask you if you are okay and maybe sit down for a cup of coffee–instead of being the guy that looks at you with sad eyes trying to convey a sense of connection without any words. It’s just not the same.  I want to tell that old lady at the store with her jewels and fancy clothing that she is beautiful, and I want to help her with her grocery shopping–if she’d like.  I want to ask the barista about his games and hear about his joy, and the same with the engrossed writing hipster.

I see these people and so many more, and I wait for hints. If I have time, I watch for them, which I seldom do. If I catch one, I write about it here. Usually, though, people just pass me by and I have little to say.  There’s so much beauty in the stories of people–it gives life meaning; I just wish I had more to share.