I just read an article on a gentleman in Australia who lives near an often used suicide spot and regularly talks people out of jumping.
This paragraph broke my heart:
"A smile cannot, of course, save everyone; the motivations behind suicide are too varied. But simple kindness can be surprisingly effective. Mental health professionals tell the story of a note left behind by a man who jumped off San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.
If one person smiles at me on the way to the bridge, the man wrote, I will not jump."
Too often I am guilty of not paying attention to the people around me. I'm wrapped up in my own little vanities, my own sorrowful thoughts, have my own agenda for getting through the day.
I have a touch of the empath, but tune it out most all the time because there's too much, often painful, information flying around out there. It's like finding a station on the radio, many channels are just static, then bam, one starts coming in loud and clear.
Several years ago in Whole Foods, while preparing my coffee, I happened to glance over at an older woman sitting in the booth next to the coffee station. We looked at each other. When I say looked at each other, I mean - our souls touched for a second.
It's disconcertingly powerful when that happens. Almost like an electric shock.
Then God (yes) put the thought in my head to talk to her.
Actually - not just talk to her, to go over and hug her.
"What?! Are you kidding? No! Personal bubble, man! You of all people know how big mine is. Actually HUG her? You are asking too waaaay much of me pre-caffeine. I don't want to. I'm minding my own business here. I have to go to work. What if it's embarrassing? What if she starts crying? What if I start crying? NO." (so much for empathy!)
Yea, talking back to God, great idea. Just call me Peter. Good thing He likes me.
I looked at her again just to make sure and yep, same soul connect, same nudge from God. Then guess what I did?
Guess what else? I look for her every time I go in Whole Foods, still think about her all these years later and wonder what I had for her, what she had for me. Maybe a human touch, a kind word would have changed both our lives.
I'll never know.
I'm going to work on remembering that a smile (no personal bubble involved), just a smile, might save some one's life.