The next time you’re in a public place — a coffeehouse, a park, a store — observe the people around you. Pick a person, a couple, or a group, and imagine what their lives might be like.
This is today’s daily prompt, and it was a perfect fit for me, as I found myself playing this little game just this morning. Today was unusual because I was able to have breakfast at Starbucks with my son. We had enough time to calmly sit down and have a conversation over our outrageously priced meal. Aside from the guilt involved and the nearly broken toes from his enormous feet stepping on them, it was very pleasant.
This was a new location for us, and we had fun taking in the scene. The woman in the orange dress was clearly on her way to work. She was wearing heels and make up and her hair was done. She was on a mission to get in and out of there as quickly as possible. I imagined that her entire life was similar to that snapshot. She seemed no nonsense and on the move. The thing that got me though, was that her stride and overall appearance seemed very loose. It was as though her skeletal structure was made of noodles. She sort of oozed. She didn’t seem unfit or overweight, just kind of wobbly. It was like her joints needed a bit of tightening up. I wondered if she was always in a hurry, and I wondered if she had someone to go home to at night.
I also wondered about the three gentlemen. First there was one. He was sipping coffee and reading a newspaper. A real one, made from actual paper. After a while, the second gentleman joined him. They greeted each other warmly and began to chat. A few minutes later, the third gentleman arrived. He pulled up a chair and again greetings were exchanged. I imagined these gentlemen had once worked as businessmen or accountants or sales reps or insurance agents. I imagined that they put kids though college, bought their wives necklaces for Christmas, and took trips every summer. I imagined that they once hosted barbecues in their neatly maintained backyards, and enjoyed the occasional round of golf. Sometimes their wives would drag them to plays or antique stores, but usually the weekends were free for sports and mowing the lawn.
The three gentlemen looked happy to see each other. They were obviously old companions. I wondered if any of them still had their wives. Were they divorced? Widowed? Did these gentlemen live alone? I think they did. Did they still own those houses with the backyard barbecues? Or had they downsized? Maybe they lived in condos where someone else would take care of the landscaping. Maybe they would have loved to go to a play or poke around in an antique store. How well did they know each other, anyway? Did they know each other’s kids?
They reminded me how important it is to have connections in my life. I wanted to share this little gem of wisdom with my fifteen year old, but at his age there’s really no need. I just hope that as he grows up, he maintains those connections with others, and spends time to nuture his real life relationships with flesh and blood people.