I’m a people watcher. Most writers are people watchers. We listen to the conversations of complete strangers and watch those people who intrigue us. Memorizing a unique mannerism, facial expression, or even a swagger is just something we do. However, even though I watch people regularly I am guilty of being so busy with my own life that I overlook others. Most adults are guilty of this. We get mad at the rude grocery store clerk and go complain but don’t stop to think why that clerk was so rude. Who knows what they are facing in their personal life. Maybe being jolly isn’t something they can accomplish at the moment because their heart is broken.
I was writing a scene in my current work in progress today and realized that I am so sympathetic to the pain of my characters. They act bad because of their pain and I feel for them. However, in the real world where I actually live (50% of the time) I don’t really stop and think about how this is true with real people.
I am reminded of a time when my daughter who is eight years old now was only three. I was at a public pool with friends and we were gossiping while watching our kids swim. While we talked and drank our diet cokes I watched people like I so often do. I noticed a lady at the table beside us who was watching her kids swim and I cringed when she yelled at the older one. I shot her a “glare” that moms so tend to do when they disapprove of another mothers actions. Aren’t we all so high and mighty sometimes? Anyway, other than shoot her my “that was uncalled for” look I ignored her. In my opinion, she wasn’t worth watching.
A few minutes later my three year old daughter, Annabelle, got out of the pool and started walking toward me. She stopped and looked over at the table where the lady sat alone and changed her direction and walked over to the lady instead. I started to get up and save my baby from the “mad mama” when I heard her little high pitched voice say, “You look very sad. Do you know Jesus loves you?” I froze not real sure how this was going to go over and unsure of what to say. The lady covered her mouth and a sob broke free from her and she began to cry.
I have always remembered that day and the lesson I learned from a three year old. People who are angry don’t need our anger in return. They just need someone to care. A kind word really does turn away wrath.