Yesterday, as I was walking home from work, I made a conscious effort to take in everything that was going on around me. I was in a sombre mood and I just wanted to reflect. I saw how everyone was so caught up in what they were doing that they had no time to notice the person beside them. Men and women walked briskly as they made an effort to catch a bus home, most of them had frowns on their faces. Some people looked like they had serious issues but that wasn’t anybody’s problem. We all wanted to go home.
I got to my bus-stop and still in my reflective mood, I began to walk towards my house. I decided to stop to buy some pineapples but my regular ‘supplier’ wasn’t there. I decided to try someone else so I took a little detour. And then I saw the girl who usually sells pineapples to me and I went straight to her, wanting to know why she wasn’t staying in her regular spot. As we were talking, several people passed and said “So this is where you are? Why did you move?” Everyone noticed the attention she was getting even the sellers in stalls around her.
After chatting with her for a bit, I bought my pineapple and started to walk home. As I walked, I began to wonder; “Why did everyone seem to be affected by her change of location? Was it that they were concerned about her? Had she impacted their lives in some way? Did they miss her or they were used to the fact that she was always in that same spot under the over-head bridge?” My guess is that we had all gotten used to getting down from the overhead bridge and seeing her with her baskets of pineapples. We did not appreciate the convenience of her presence until her absence. It was the first time that we actually thought about her as a person and not as the girl who sells pineapples. At least for me it was.
Why do we wait until people leave before we begin to appreciate how valuable they are? Why is it so difficult to make it a habit to appreciate people and care about them? I have bought pineapple from this girl for over three months and I don’t know her name and to her I am “Aunty”. We barely have any meaningful conversation and the little conversation we have is mainly about pineapple. How shocking is that?
I felt bad. It shouldn’t be like that. I cannot begin to count how many people I ignore on a daily basis as I rush to work or somewhere ‘urgent’. The gatemen in my estate greet me every morning and evening but I know little or nothing about them. I don’t even know their names. I just smile at them when I’m going out and I move on with my life. I have never for once given them a compliment for the great job they are doing. I have not stopped to ask how their day went or how their wives and children are doing. I don’t even know if they have wives and children!
The point of my little musing is that it’s time for you to start caring about people around you. Don’t just stop at your family and friends. I’m sure some of you have drivers who you know little or nothing about. It may be your office assistant who you only notice when he is not around. Part of adopting love as a way of life includes being selfless. It involves sacrificing a few minutes of your precious time to get to know someone. Love involves sacrifice. It may be something as little as doing a kind gesture for someone.
We all want to be appreciated and that applies to the man who comes every week to pack your dustbin. Loving people starts with appreciation. It starts with acknowledging the fact that they are important to you and you need to let them know that. So press the pause button on your busy schedule and open your heart to people in love, most especially people who are often ignored by the society at large.