I was on the subway once when I witnessed something that changed my perspective on life. This moment below has impacted my writing and my motivation to share my thoughts with the world:
Just another stranger navigating the tunnels of NYC, I sat and let my thoughts and emotions penetrate the deafening cloud of silence that loomed over the crowded subway train. And then I heard it. Harmonies threading themselves together, creating a ribbon of sound that wrapped its way through the crowded subway car, lifting heads, and intertwining the ears of a hundred strangers. People looked up as three elderly African American men made their way through the connecting door singing. Looking at their tattered clothes, one might have seen lives stripped of happiness, and bodies that wore the rags of sorrow. However, their faces told a different story. The corners of their mouths turned upward, these passionate men were the definition of happiness. The song they sang got quieter and quieter until it hit a lull that seemed to illuminate the car. As the noise faded out I remember looking at the three men. They had so little, yet they were so rich in humanity. Humanity that seeped from their souls as they sang to a crowd of strangers. This experience made me realize that moments of desperation can be raw with suffering yet ripe with the benevolence that makes humans glow with beauty. Unnoticed, is the light in the dark. Unnoticed, is human depth.
The human brain makes a first impression in a mere seven seconds. With such a small window of time, the lens through which we view the world narrows. The ragged clothed beggar becomes a number on the streets of New York, and the overweight child another projection of the “typical” lazy American. In a mere seven seconds, we judge only what appears through our narrowed lens, failing to acknowledge what lies in our blind spots– the depth of human beings. If the inside of every person was indeed a reflection of what people see at first glance, the world would not be the same. Without human innovation the skyline of New York City would not exist. Without human empathy, the motivation to help others is lost. Without characteristics that create human depth, the world is broken, and humanity a hopeless being among the wreckage. So why is it that the very qualities that shapes this planet and makes humans stand apart from each other, goes unnoticed? The answer lies within human nature itself. Within that seven seconds, we let what we see before our eyes define what’s in front of us. This casual observation frequently reveals nothing more than the superficial exterior where economic status, race, and gender monopolize the picture–masking the qualities underneath. The quality of others is something that has to be searched for rather than instantly detected on the surface. Therefore, it takes more effort and thought to discover the beauty in others.
Seeing those men on the train taught me to see joy and hope where others see suffering. Once numb with the silence of a group of strangers, that subway train was awakened, evolving into a breathing vessel, alive with the harmonies created by three men who were so much more than simple beggars. Looking at these men I saw greatness. Talent. Human potential. Acknowledging such hidden characteristics beneath their tattered image, I saw within their eyes a reflection of the New York skyline; because after all, without human depth it wouldn’t exist.
I like to notice the beauty in life and in human beings. I hope this blog helps you notice it too. Welcome to the blog of my Big Beautiful Life.