Sharing a moment -- a laugh, a story, a compliment -- with a complete stranger reaffirms for me the wonderful interconnectedness of humanity.
Recently I was a woman on a mission. I had exactly five minutes to run into Publix, figure out what to fix for dinner, pray for a short check-out lane, jump back in the car and head to carpool line, pray that the traffic cooperates, pick up the boys, run home . . . the list went on and on. It was one of those days.
Chicken fingers, I decided. Rushing to the deli counter I got there at the same time as another man. I saw him out of the corner of my eye, but I was so busy mentally going over my to-do list that I didn't even acknowledge him.
"Who's next?" asked the Publix attendant.
I looked at the older gentleman standing next to me.
"Oh, you're prettier than I am," he said graciously. "Please, you go."
A laugh just bubbled out of me. I thanked him and placed my order of 15 chicken fingers, remembered that I was picking up my son from practice, and changed the order to 20 chicken fingers.
The man laughed.
"How do you suppose she keeps her trim figure eating all that?" he asked the Publix attendant.
Later, when I was telling this story to the family during dinner, I had to convince them that a) the man wasn't senile, and b) that he could see just fine thank-you-very-much. Oh, the teasing was all in good fun but, really, there is a visceral beauty in reaching out to others in kindness, warmth, and good-will.
Mark Twain once said that he could live for two months on a good compliment and, while I don't know about two months, I do know that my stranger's kind words certainly put a spring in my step and changed the course of the rest of my day. I slowed down, I remembered to breathe, I wasn't late for anyone or anything.
And dinner was great.
A moment with a stranger was all it took for time to stand still . . . allowing me to marvel at the interconnectedness of it all.
*Post title from the lyrics in Victor Hugo's Les Miserables.