At the airport this past Friday morning:
A young man (I am guessing between the ages of 17-25) dances/skips with perfectly pointed toes across the endless carpeted open space in the international arrivals terminal in Toronto. I see him from the top of the escalator two stories up. Upon a closer look, I can see he isn’t a professional. He and his mother happened to exit at the same time I did. I asked the woman if I could talk to her son. She paused.
“He’s autistic,” she said.
“I know,” I said and proceeded.
“I saw you dancing in there.”
“I’m not a dancer,” he said.
“Well, I just wanted to thank you for sharing your joy. It made me very happy to see you dance.”
He walked away. His mom cried.
She seemed shocked that someone even noticed her son, much less had something kind to say to him.
I posted this bit on Facebook, and the reactions and shares piled up. Many acknowledged me for my actions which, frankly, still embarrasses me. I didn’t mean to attract attention to myself. I wanted to share this scene for people to take in and bring their own meaning to it.
In the few days since, I thought it was worth repeating here as an invitation. That invitation is to look up from your devices and skip past instant assumptions. Focus your perspective to cut through the surface to find a connection or commonality you can appreciate with our fellow human beings. See their humanity.
You know what I saw when I watched the dancing young man? First, I saw beauty in his form. Then I marveled at the freedom he gave himself to enjoy the open, uncrowded, carpeted space. Then I projected myself into that observation. Whenever I am in an open, carpeted expanse, like an empty Las Vegas conference ballroom (not random, I’m in these ballrooms often for speeches), I want to do the very same thing he was doing! I want to jump and dance and fly through the space to the limits of my human ability. Before a certain age, I cartwheeled when I was alone in these spaces. So by looking up from my device and coming upon the bird’s eye view of this dancer, I saw beauty, felt joy in watching him, and connected it to my secret. I relished the moment.
I also had to say something to him about it. I knew he wouldn’t care, but I felt moved to talk to him. I felt I could relate to this mother who has it much harder than I do. I know she lives in a world most don’t understand. I wanted her to know her boy had an impact. His freedom to be himself mattered.
What will you notice today? What will you SEE?
If you read this because you’re on the Now What? (am I going to do) journey, being more in tune with what’s going on around you can help open your eyes to opportunities that might otherwise go unnoticed.