One of the things I love doing is to sit in the foyer of the shopping centre at Coffs Harbour, about an hour north of where I live, and watching people go by. It is fascinating to see the variety, to see different relationships in operation, to see happiness, sadness, intent or vagueness on the faces of passing people.
I always look at people and wonder what life has dished up for them along their journey to where they are today. Each person was born as a small baby, innocent, hopeful, open to love, and embarking out on an adventurous, challenging adventure called life. It reminds me of the fact that each person is such an individual, each with their own experiences which has brought them to where they are.
I’ve found that living in a rural area way from city life is a real eye-opener. It teaches you, at a very prosaic level, to cope with snakes, insects, lizards, big spiders and other assorted wildlife. But it’s also taught me to look for the heart of people and appreciate how so many ordinary folk are kind-hearted, generous and ready to extend a helping hand at the drop of a hat. Many I have met would differ from me on politics, the environment, social attitudes and so on. But these aren’t the main game. It’s what’s in the heart that counts.
I had a lovely neighbour when I lived in northern New South Wales. She was a gentle, kind woman, quite shy, who lived for her family. When she found out my father had died, she was quick to offer to stay with me when my husband had to go out for whatever reason, I can’t remember. When we were out and it rained, she kindly popped into our garden, took down our washing and put it in a dry place. We had some lovely conversations and I really loved her dearly for the lovely person she was.
I was reminded of this friend, now sadly deceased through breast cancer, when a passer-by called in to ask if he could look around our place as it’s up for sale. He was a typical country bloke, rough and ready with a booming, deafening voice as he’d got used to speaking loudly due to his work with chainsaws. But what a beaut bloke he was, talking about kindness to friends and strangers, looking for a peaceful resolution for any conflict, relating how you couldn’t stay angry or bitter because this sort of stuff ate you up inside, mentioning the children he’d brought up and the young man he was currently mentoring, and talking about all this not because he saw himself as something special but because it was just natural to him.
He never did offer to buy our home but I always wonder why people enter my life, and I think he did to remind me once again that it’s not on the outside that counts. It’s not what you wear. It’s not what size house or car you have. It’s not about what trendy restaurant you can afford to eat it. It’s what’s in our heart that counts because if you don’t know the power of love, if you can’t see the love in other people, you’re a very poor person indeed.
So the next time you’re in a coffee shop or something similar, take time to watch people go by, open your heart and embrace our diversity and the power of love which lurks in everyone’s heart and soul. Perhaps if you smile at a stranger or say a kind word to a passer-by, you may make life a little more pleasant or less lonely for them and lift their hearts to a lighter place.