As I waited at the light with my children in tow on Central and Osborn the other day I noticed three exuberant young women dressed in Diamondback gear excitingly chatting with anticipation of a fun and carefree afternoon as they walked towards the light rail. Just ahead was a woman around their age with her shoulders slouched over holding a faded cardboard sign that read “Money for Food.” She took a slow, hesitant step back from her spot to allow the carefree women to pass.
There was something in that step back that tore at my heart. It was a step conceding her lot in life. I wanted to scream at her “you can be one of them!” She could have been the fourth friend as my judging mind starting comparing and contrasting from the comfort of my air-conditioned SUV.
The three friends had long, shiny blond hair perfected with salon visits and styling products. The lady on the street had long blond hair too. Although hers was naturally sun-streaked from hours on the corner begging for money, but there was a dullness to her limp hair.
All the women were thin. The lady on the street from not getting enough food and the gals heading to the game from hours in the gym, yoga and hiking I imagined.
They looked around the same age. The game-bound women looked bright eyed, hopeful and eager while the woman on the corner looked lonely with sad, sunken eyes.
I pondered the differences in upbringing that had the three young women bouncing down the street in utter bliss to the young woman hunched over from years of disappointment on her back.
My active mind started to invent their stories. The three girls were friends from childhood, all growing up on tree lined cul da sac streets with every opportunity presented to them. I imagined the lady on the street surving a torrid childhood now weighed down by memories she couldn’t rise above. I envisioned the carefree girl’s biggest choice of the day would be to get Bud Light or Coors Light. I thought about the lady on the street having to make life saving choices every day. Where could she sleep in safety? Would she eat and drink enough to keep her body moving and her heart pumping?
It was fascinating and perplexing to see these contrasting worlds cross at the intersection for a brief moment in time.
But really what did I know about any of these women? Any one of the four women could have had a privileged up bringing or a horrific upbringing or somewhere in between, and upbringing and environment does not always dictate the future direction of someone’s life. Despite the stories I was creating I didn’t know the first thing about the inside of their hearts, souls or minds.
I then started thinking about how these four women and myself were all similar despite our obvious differences. We are all human beings, we all have beating hearts, and we all yearn for the same universal desires; love, connection, and to be seen and heard.
And that is what tugged at my heart. That step back. Was the timid step back wanting to be seen and wanting to connect, but then not feeling worthy of that desire? Was it not wanting to be seen? Was it a longing for connection?
Did the carefree girls feel the human connection to her when they walked within inches of her? Did they feel her energy? Did the gal on the street feel connected to the carefree women? Did she feel their energy?
We all desire human love and connection. We are all inherently worthy of love and connection.
I focused on feeling the connection to all four women. I stopped the judgment. I stopped the comparison. Then I remembered a loving kindness meditation I had learned recently and recited it in my head as the light changed and we all proceeded on with our days.
May all beings feel love and joy.
May all beings be healthy and happy.
May all beings be free and well.
May all beings feel connected and united.
May all beings walk this earth safely and under grace.
Good energy spreads. Loving thoughts manifest. Sometimes we offer resources and sometimes we can offer our loving thoughts, compassion and heart-centered energy. The loving thoughts lift the vibration of the sender and the receiver and remind us that we are all connected.