I am writing to you from a downtown skyscraper — an odd place for taking the heart and twirling it into words with a pen. I am here because my mum asked me for lunch and I never say no to mum or lunch. I sit down at the biggest window in this office and I see people everywhere walking. I imagine they have families who love them and somebody who thinks of them often. To me, they are a stranger walking into work, but to somebody else, they are the sun or the milk white teeth shining at the end of a hard day.
I learn a great deal of empathy when I stop staring at my shoes. I am alive in a world full of people with their own anxiety and hard loneliness, a world full of languages and dreaming of home, a world full of winter's passing and summer's returning, a world full of unrequited love and empty beds, a world full of teeter tottering between days where there is laughter and days where there are tears. In the pursuit of my own story, I often forget just how dark the floor or startling the sky might be for somebody who is not me. I look at the people walking and I imagine they must know beauty but perhaps they have only glided on the grasses of grief and hard luck. I want to believe there is more to a stranger's eyes but I worry that more only means the kind of sadness you cannot see.
What do these strangers see when they look at me? How could my beret and coat the color of a pine ever tell them my favorite song or the fact that I cried last night because somebody I love didn't listen to a word I said? They may see me walking slow as if standing in syrup and not realize that my stomach hurts today or that I'm worried about somebody. To them, I am a stranger walking into work, but to somebody else, I am the sun or the milk white teeth shining at the end of a hard day.
When you see a stranger, even if they sit under the same moon or kick the same pebbles on the same street, remember, they are still writing their own story with pencil and red ink. Just like you. Just like me. Sometimes, we look at others and believe the grass where they grew is greener and softer than our own. I don't know if this is because we'd rather envy than see the actual weeds which grow in every garden. Maybe, we don't want to believe there is somebody out there who is sadder than our own sad, madder than our own mad, or more lonely than our loneliest hour. Maybe, the comparison robs us of our own right to feel what we feel or makes us feel even worse.
To me, sad will always be sad, mad will always be mad, lonely will always be lonely, but strangers won't always be strangers. I look up from my shoes and in doing so, I see the world and it makes me feel less alone.