Have you ever told a complete stranger you loved them?
I did yesterday for what I think was the first time in my life but probably not my last.
Steve and I find ourselves going out less and less to public places. We are trying hard not to become hermits but loud spaces with crowds of people don’t hold much appeal anymore. Personally, I find myself distracted. I lose my focus as I get pulled into large screen TV’s and other people’s conversations.
Last night we had plans to meet a friend of ours for dinner after our Tuesday night yoga class. We meet with Alex a couple times a year to catch up on life. We decided to have dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants, Frida’s. It’s a busy restaurant/bar in a hip part of town.
We sat at a table in the bar area as the restaurant was full. There is a large screen TV in this area. Steve graciously took the seat facing the TV so I could face away from the bright lights and changing images. I thought I was home free from outside attention grabbers.
But there was only a couple feet separating our table from the bar patrons. Those two feet were not enough distance to keep the conversation of the three strangers sitting directly across from us out of my psyche.
I tried turning my body so my back was to the bar. I tried hard to focus on our friend Alex and our conversation. It had been more than six months since our last meet up so I wanted to give him my full attention.
In situations like these with multiple distractions, I try to utilize concentration techniques to bring my attention to what it is I want to focus on and not let my mind be pulled elsewhere. Sometimes I am better at it than others. Last night I found myself winning in some moments but losing in others.
As Alex told us about his two trips home to Mexico to visit family, I heard the party of three at the bar get a little louder in their conversation. One of the women sounded agitated. There were two women and one man. The women sat next to each other while the man stood and faced into them.
“I know he loves you……” I heard the other woman say. This comment coming from the strangers hooked me.
Is she talking about the man that is with them I wondered?
“I think so too.” the man chimed in.
Ok, they are both talking to the first woman. Wait a minute. I am hooked into the conversation of people I don’t know. Dipping, right? I don’t want to dip I thought.
I took a deep breath and returned to Steve and Alex and tried to catchup with their conversation.
I succeeded for a good twenty minutes until I heard the threesome’s volume go up about 3 notches.
“You call yourself a friend?” I heard the second woman ask the first woman. “A friend would not send a text from my phone when I asked you not to.”
“I did you a favor.” the first woman said in reply defending herself.
“Favor?!” I could hear the indignation in the second woman’s voice. I could also tell they were slightly inebriated.
Once again I tried to bring my attention back to my group. Instead, I found myself judging the alcohol intake and the intrusive loudness the three at the bar where exhibiting in a public place.
“Let go of all this. Go back to your own friends.” I said to myself.
It was obvious Steve and Alex noticed the commotion as well but they were much better at filtering it out. I was sitting closer to the anonymous threesome at the bar. Being in the middle was a challenge for me.
I sensed the one woman who called her friend out on her action was distressed. It sounded like she was holding back tears.
Acknowledging her discomfort, I let go of my judgements of her and her companions. I took a deep breath and sent her compassion. My in and out dipping did not give me the whole story nor did I want it but I sensed compassion in this moment was what she needed more than judgement. I felt receiving compassion from a stranger sitting two feet away from her was the best thing in the moment for both of us.
I took a breath and sent it from my heart to hers. My visualization lasted about 15 seconds and then I let it go. I felt calmer. I hoped she did too I thought.
I returned to Alex and Steve with much more focus.
Fifteen minutes passed and it was time to go.
As if orchestrated by some energetic mastermind, all six of us stood up the same time.
Maneuvering to put on our coats the woman in distress hit my arm. She turned as if to say excuse me but instead she looked me right in the eyes and said,
“I’m 44 years old. I got a text two days ago from this guy I’m crazy about. I have been single for 15 years and was not looking for a relationship. But a year ago he pursued me. Things were great. Then two days ago he texted me that he felt smothered and was calling it quits between us. I have read the text over and over but decided not to respond. I couldn’t respond. I told my friends about it tonight. Then she took my phone and sent a response. That is not cool, right?”
“Look” I said, “I don’t know about her sending the text, you two will have to work that out. What I do know is you will be fine from all this.” Our friend Alex added some encouragement as well.
“But I’m 44.” she said looking intently into my eyes.
“So what”, I said as if I was talking to a close friend who needed to hear the truth. “Age has little to do with the emotions you are going through right now. Your mind and emotions are throwing a lot of stuff at you in this moment. Try to relax and know you will be ok. And more importantly you will somehow be better for it.”
“Do you really believe that?” she asked.
“Yes with no doubts.” I said. “Are you healthy?” I asked
“Yes.” she replied.
“Do you have people around you who love you?” I asked.
“Yes.” she replied.
“Focus on those things. Focus on the good things you have in this moment to help you with this pain.” I said.
There was a pause. We looked into each other’s eyes.
We were not distracted. We were in an eye lock.
Then I added, “You are a good person and you will be better than OK.”
“I believe you”, she said.
“So do I.”— I added.
She grabbed me and hugged me like we were life long friends. She squeezed me and I squeezed her right back.
“I love you.” she said in my ear.
“I love you too.” I said back without even a pause. In that moment I realized once again- we are not separate energies. We are sparks of the same creative force. We all have the same needs, wants, desires and hopes. And sometimes we get what we need from a total stranger—-unconditional love.
This beautiful brown eyed, 44 year old being and I shared what one of my teachers calls, “the inclusive love of the universal heart.” It is a love that transcends the personal. It is a love we all know deep inside. Sometimes we just need a reminder of its presence.
No matter what life circumstances you are experiencing, let yourself flow to the inclusive instead of the exclusive and move from the individual to the universal. Send love and compassion to your fellow humans and move away from judgement. Who knows, you just might get a gift of love from the most unexpected place.
I will never know if our exchange helped her in any way but I do know it helped me. I experienced the magic of letting myself be human and acknowledging the humanness of another sweet soul in need. When it comes to love, there are no strangers.