Monday Musings…Do You See What I See?


“Look both ways before you cross the street!” I was told. “Keep your eye on the ball!” I was instructed. So much of my childhood was directed to pay attention to what was going on around me. I can honestly say, I probably didn’t heed this advice very well, being more prone to distractions like a squirrel, but at least I had my head up and not buried into my chest looking down at a device.

We all have busy lives and it is easy to miss what is going on around us, but it seems the cell phone actually gives us an out from actually connecting with people, in person.

If someone is struggling, they are likely to Google their symptoms, maybe find a Reddit forum that talks about it, or even call a help line. But I think, for the vast majority of individuals, technology doesn’t move the person to take the next step, which is to go and get the help they need. And so, they suffer in silence, well except for the clicking of the keys or swift movement of their fingers. And we are doing the same thing, lost in our own world, ignorant of the suffering around us. The result…we miss the distress signals.

The only antidote to this, is to stop, look, and listen – another familiar safety idiom promoted in the 1970’s to warn pedestrians about oncoming traffic. This saying, that was drilled into all school children, instructed us to physically stop our movements, look repeatedly to the left and right, and before proceeding we needed to listen for any kind of vehicular traffic – bicycle bell, city bus brakes, train whistles, car engines. The fact that we needed to be told something which should be obvious, tells us that people are prone to ignore what is right in front of them without the assistance of some kind of catch phrase.

So, here I am, telling you something that is obvious. 😊We really should bring this slogan back. We need to re-educate people of the importance of looking out for each other; and not just the people we know, but anyone who comes along our path. We should practice daily scanning our environment, wherever we are placed: work, school, the grocery aisle, the church pew, on the city bus, or in the dentist chair. There are tons of hurting people out there and all it takes is for you and I to notice. But we can’t do that if our chin is glued to our chest.

Many of these individuals likely would never ask for help, but if we took the initiative, they might be willing to share. In fact, I know this to be true. I see it everyday at the college where I work. You may think it is easy for me because of who I am, but that doesn’t matter. People need to form those connections. Our default now is to keep our heads down, put blinders on, and leave the ‘work’ to someone else. But I can tell you, there is not enough of me to go around. We all play a role on this planet. Will you lift your head up, to stop, look, and listen? What a revolution of support and hope we could create, if people actually did this!

I’ve always liked NEEDTOBREATHE’s song entitled “Keep Your Eyes Open”. There is a great unknown before us that we walk into every day, but maybe today is the day to lift someone up who is afraid, broken, in pain or who feels trapped in the prison walls of their distress. They are out there. We just need to look.

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© 2016 Head Space: Charlene Mahon