Once while I was in Manhattan on business, I looked out a window 30+ stories above the ground; though high above everyone else, including the noise of traffic and deafening din of importance, I didn’t feel settled inside. I felt tiny; I felt insignificant.
At work, I’ll often sneak a peek at the outside world as I pass by our 14th and 15th floor windows. Neighborhoods stretch for miles; homes cover every square inch of land. Smog hangs heavy in the sky on some days, and other days we’re lucky to see downtown Los Angeles, a city synonymous with throngs of people. Some parts of California can feel incredibly claustrophobic at times.
If I need to do a Google image search for something, I sometimes find that I’m overwhelmed at the variety of people that show up in my search results. Same thing goes for the ol’ Facebook newsfeed; people tagged in pictures that we’re seeing, strangers’ pictures visible to people they don’t know…it’s mind-boggling.
There are so many of them. So, so many. People I’ll never know, and — admittedly — people I don’t want to know. Some pictures I come across seem to not need any description, and the things that come through in the eyes of these nameless souls are the things that would suffocate my world: desperation, hurt, pain, people who are purely attention-seeking.
People who are simply looking for a chance, people who are beat down. Lost people, broken people, people who have only known struggle and not peace.
I tend to be a relatively avoidant person most of the time, and while I’d love to help more people than I do, I can’t. It would kill me. I do what I can, when I can, and I am amazed by people who are on the front lines of the world helping those who clearly need it. They’re made of something that I am not, and that’s OK. We’re all made of things that other people aren’t, and in time we’ll all know our gifts, if we don’t already.
Tonight I am, quite simply, thankful for the people who are in my life. My bubble isn’t large, but it is the way it is by design. I’ve no idea how many more people might make their way into it in the coming years and decades, but given the billions of people out there, I’m sure there are a few new ones who float in, and perhaps even out.
Here’s to the multitudes we do not know, the gifts they have which we are unaware of, and here’s to being open to allowing them into our worlds when being avoidant would be the easy path to take.