I saw a woman today… just standing.
Loaded down with bags.
At what…nothing in particular it seemed.
Stuck in a daze, it seemed.
How did she get here? There.
Maybe she was wondering the same thing.
I walked past her.
As I imagine most do, everyday.
I felt instant sadness and concern for her.
But did nothing.
I kept walking.
Because, really what am I to do? I could have said Hi. Hello. How are you? But then what? See what happens I suppose, and take it from there. I don’t know. So often, we see people in distress and we do nothing. Is it because of our fear of the unknown? Fear of their reaction? What would you have done? What could I have done? What should we do when someone is looking so…lost? So alone.
Scrolling keeps us from so many things. From achieving goals. From completing daily tasks. From doing. From being.
It connects us, yet disconnects at the very same time. We neglect those nearest to us. Physically. Spiritually. Soulfully.
Our gaze, directed at a screen instead of meeting the gaze of those nearest, those who love or need us the most. It was March 21, 2017 when I saw that lonely woman. I had recently had a miscarriage, something we have been socialized not to speak of. Something we keep secret, despite its commonality. 1 in 4. I was in a constant state of deep thought and reflection. Yet, at the same time hyper aware of those that crossed my path. Traveling on the subway. Walking on the sidewalk. In the supermarket. My student’s parents. Colleagues. Any and everybody. Especially women. I wondered, “What are they going through?”. “What happened to him?” “What happened to her?” “Is she pregnant?” “Can she get pregnant?” “What’s his story?” “What’s her story?” We don’t know each other’s stories. And most of the stories we come across while scrolling are perfectly coiffed and manicured. Not reflections of real life. We keep the real tucked away, hidden. We’re afraid of the real.
I walked past the real that day, and even though I wondered, and pondered…even though I felt I cared… I kept walking. I kept scrolling.
As I reflect on that day, I know that I was hurting, but I was also healing. Very few knew what was going on with me, and even less asked. I understand that many a time, we feel it’s not our place to invade someone’s privacy. If they want to share, they will… is what we tell ourselves. But that is not always true. From one human to another, for the sake of humanity, I think we should… sometimes… just ask. “Hey, you ok?” “How are you?” “Can I help you with something?” If they say no. It’s all good. At least you know you reached out. At least you know you didn’t keep walking. You didn’t keep scrolling.