There’s a thought.
An ephemeral inclination—a diminutive self-jest—that prods me to walk up to a stranger and say hello. Hello. How’s your day? Your week? Your life?
What makes you smile?
What ails you?
Who are you?
Or the seductive temptation to give in to the lack of better self-preservation to smile and say hello to those who were crazy enough to attempt my inclinations with me.
We’re all human, I remind myself when I begin to see people just as walking paintings of a person. In those clothes, in those jobs, and in those moods.
We’re all connected by the reality that binds us. Part of that being that we’re bound as species. Even if the lenses we view all of this might be different.
Most of us want to be happy. Have reasons to smile.
When did the some of us lose that?
Most of us feel love. Have that, that, metaphysical warmth that transcends mere physical contact when hugging someone.
Why were some of us born without that?
Most of us are lonely when we realize the zoo we’ve made ourselves is indifferent and everchanging as much as the universe it’s in regardless of our own dispositions.
What made so many of us simply accept that as just a fact of life?
Sometimes, I just want to hear their stories. I’ve wondered if it was for curious amusement or for a reminder of that connection all human beings should have with one another. A proof of a sort that life isn’t so unique and isolated.
I remember an old man who spoke to me for hours about his life. How he was a sailor when he was young. Found joy in fighting. Found love in a foreign land. He frequented the cafe where I sat and listened to his story. Most of the workers thought he was a crazy old man. I don’t know why he decided to speak to me. He told he was an accomplished professor now slowly dying of a disease. He told me never to get old if I can help it. Near the end, he told me his wife had passed away recently and I saw deep loneliness in his eyes. The helplessness of knowing what was exactly next but not knowing what the road would be like until he gets there.
After about 3 hours of conversation, I asked the old man for his name as I wanted to bid him a proper farewell.
He looked at me as if I was mad for asking for his name. As if I had broken some sort of an unspoken, sacred oath. A venerable rule.
“Why?” The old man asked.
There was half-a-second of empty silence.
“Thank you for your time and for the conversation,” I told the nameless old man and offered him a handshake.
He gave me an unenthusiastic, socially-coerced handshake and walked away.
And I never saw him again.