hopped on the subway today and noticed that everyone had their headsets on… well nearly everyone. at first i thought maybe it was a NYC thing to do, but then i noticed the common denominator in those who were headphone free – we were all of the older generation. i’m used to looking around and making eye contact with people, and taking the time to connect and perhaps engage in a conversation. it seems when the younger generation is in a public space, the mode of operation is silence. obviously i’m generalizing, but this has been my limited experience with people younger than myself in crowded spaces .
i tried to connect in my silly old lady way, but no one seemed interested in a nice conversation about the weather or how crowded the car is. they looked past me, or down as if observing something very interesting on the floor, or sometimes right through me, but whatever they did, they never let their eyes meet mine. i had to laugh because i remember hiding myself in a book at that age, trying to use my time wisely, at least more wisely than engaging in silly conversation with someone i didn’t know.
i’m in such a different place now. every person i meet now, every person who sits by me on a plane, or on a train, or stands by me in a line, now has a purpose, a reason for being in my life. as i remain open to listening, i have discovered that even the tiniest interactions have meaning, and when i pause to appreciate them, i grow.