I’m not home right now, and maybe that’s why I’m a little more sensitive…and observant. I’m actually in the little town I went to college in, and it seems like everywhere I look, I see myself twenty-odd years younger. The idea that I might catch a glimpse of myself from those glory days when I was more beautiful than I thought and not nearly as smart as I believed makes me look a little closer at the people I pass. And today that led me to an epiphany.
God, I do love that word. And it describes what I felt so perfectly. It was like an explosion of perfect knowledge inside my head.
It was as I passed by a beautiful young woman dressed in a business suit. She couldn’t have been much older than the college students, and she looked tired. I began to imagine her story because she reminded me of me at that age. She’d just come from a job interview. She has a few more classes to finish up in summer school and then she’ll have her degree in business administration or education or library science or economics. Her future is full of uncertainty and promise and she’s having a hard time dealing with everything that’s being thrown at her but she’s doing her best.
And I started wondering why I knew that. And BAM!
I realized it’s because she’s just like me. She’s walking along, keeping all her emotions in check and all her worries and insecurities safely beneath the surface so I won’t see them. But I know them because they’re mine, too. Or they were at one time. And that’s when it really hit me that we’re all the same. We’re all insecure. We all worry about tomorrow and our imperfect bodies and our health and losing the people we love. We all try to keep it under wraps so we don’t freak out the other guy. But the other guy’s doing the same thing. And for just a second as I walked down the street, I could see it clearly. The girl I was passing, the old man sitting on the side of the road offering to have his dog do tricks for a dollar, the biker, the people waiting at the bus stop. And me.
All souls contained by the thin skin of our bodies.
What would happen if everyone everywhere suddenly had that same epiphany? What if we all realized that those little things don’t matter and we can’t change how other people see us and those people are worrying about how we see them, anyway? What if we all stopped trying to suck in our stomachs and say the exact right thing and not look too closely at the people we don’t think we want to know?
Like all explosions, this one was over quickly. What I’m writing now comes only from the last embers of it. It doesn’t come close to the moment of perfect knowledge, but at least I can share this much of it.