I was talking to the barista at the local coffee joint. It’d been some time since I caffeinated there. We caught up, discussed the shop, his music career, pizza and beards. You know, the essentials. (If you want a weather-or-Donald Trump’s-latest convo, I’m not your guy). “I’d love to chat all morning, but it’s inventory day,” he apologized. I gave him the green light.
As he walked away he turned and said with the utmost sincerity, “It really is great to see you T.J. Always have a smile on your face.” I accepted and grinned in my chair.
Minutes later I reached for my journal, but something obstructed the page. It was a card, handwritten and bursting with color. Three lines layered in love. My name in this person’s print was enough to warm my insides. Can you say “you had me at hello?”
The same afternoon I did my daily hike with Gus. A sunny stroll through the autumn woods. We walked past a gimpy man ascending a rocky incline. I greeted him as Gus inspected his cane. “Just enjoying my therapy,” he said. “Gorgeous day, a great park and positive people like you.” I wished him health and left with a jolt.
Now, before I proceed, allow me to lay some context.
Hi, I’m T.J. and I’m an… (interrupted by group joviality).
Uh yeah… um… well… like I was saying (big pause) … there’s no easy way to put this… but… UH… well… I’m an… (pause again) I’m… I’m an introvert.
This is the meeting that occasionally plays in my head. To those of you who know me, this is a real shocker I’m sure. To those who don’t, the context is crucial to these words.
But yes, an introvert I am. What does that mean exactly? Well for the most part, I live Within.
Groups aren’t my thing and Facebook overwhelms me. I’ll never speak to fill space. If voices rise and agendas flair, the stage is yours. I’ll be on the other end listening, breathing; we can reconvene when you surface for air. Cause ya know… quiet contribution is often the best contribution. If the stillness makes you uncomfortable (and most people it does), you’ll probably form a quick opinion of me (just don’t call me “shy” – I’m anything but).
That said, I love to say thank you and always give credit where it is due. I laugh when many don’t and ask great, meaningful questions. If I’m jacked up about a particular topic, you’ll know. If I’m not, you’ll know that too (I’d never make it in Hollywood).
So, back to the story (stories, actually). Three small gestures, big, BIG imprint. And honestly, it’s all it takes.
Had I not been acknowledged that day, would I have felt shorted or low on life? Not at all. My form of introversion (Presence, really) may not rely on the exterior, but that’s not the point. The point is those reflections felt really damn good and hijacked my day to a loftier dimension.
And guess what? It doesn’t matter if you’re a rock star, a bodhisattva or a refrigerator repair man, being human, we need to be told. (E.g. Last month I let the FedEx worker, a frumpy woman in her mid-fifties, know how beautiful her eyes were. She turned a red so deep I thought a stretcher might be needed). This isn’t a matter of validity, but one of recognition. Validation is for parking.
You and I’s part in all of this?
Dish love… relentlessly.
Salute someone’s shine… constantly.
Acknowledge, recognize and BE the small stuff… it matters.
And you do too.