Sunday, June 27, 2010

Random Acts of Acknowledgment

A driving force in my life is to be heard. I had a brief stint on radio. I've performed on "stage" with my guitar. And like David with his slingshot, I've stood up at meetings and spoken my mind rationally, intelligently, and with respect, often to those who don't return it and for those who choose to be silent.

I blog. I post. I tweet. I'm now writing for television - not because anyone is paying me to, but that will come. :-)

And none of that has anything to do with today's topic.

I'm not talking about random acts of kindness, of which I am a huge fan. Those are acts that require no "listener", no recognition.

I'm talking about the not-so-random, purposeful act of recognizing a stranger. Not being silent. Acknowledging that you see and recognize another person, who equally has needs, emotions, stress, heartache, joy, purpose.

Recently I traveled solo to a software conference. No one else from my company was attending, and my girlfriend couldn't join me. At the conference itself, getting eye contact from others was very difficult, just to smile, nod or say "hello." I know people think IT folks are the introvert sort, but trust me, there are extroverts in all industries. Though discouraged, I made a point of doing so, and it felt good. For those who were too shy or too rude, I had to let that go.

Coming home on the plane, an elderly couple sat next to me yet oddly refused to acknowledge me. I said "hello" but received nothing. Perhaps I was quiet, or they didn't hear me. I was seated at the window; the woman between me and her traveling partner. She elbowed my rib cage or my shoulder at least six times. I understand it's tight seating, but she never acknowledged her actions. I gave up the left armrest as I do for anyone "stuck" in the middle seat. And I accommodated however I could: leaning into the window, pulling my shoulders in, etc. I didn't glare, sigh heavily or demand apologies, but a simple gesture from this woman -- a smile, a shrug -- would have acknowledged me.

So here's what I take from it: I choose to acknowledge others, and will consciously do so more and as much as humanly possible so I don't make anyone feel so alone. I will let them know I see them. They are human. They are equals.


AnnaM said...

You are a good dude, Mike.

Leaving positive karma in your wake is like planting flowers everywhere you go. Peace!

Mike said...

Thank you, Anna! Good reference, too!

Sezin said...

Hi Mike,

This is a great post and I totally agree. Airplanes in general can be a horrible microcosm of the worst sorts of human behaviour and the only way to get through those experiences is by rising above it. I'm not the best at it, but you've given me new impetus.

Thank you!



ncp4eva said...

Sometimes I feel weird for still craving politeness from other earthlings. I am not saying we should all be best friends but...

This is a great post, and yea, one day you will be getting paid for writing for television... :)

Loved it!

Mike said...

Thank you for your kind words and taking the time to comment, Sezin and WLC! So glad you like the post! Waiting for my one day :-D ~Mike

One Wink at a Time said...

Maybe I am a sucker but I believe we all need acknowledgment and I give it at every possible opportunity. Sometimes it comes back, sometimes it doesn't. But the rewards (that good feeling that sometimes even can border on warm and fuzzy) are worth the effort. I'd say that they far outweigh the neutral or rude reactions.
Connecting is good, on any level and I'm glad there are people like you (and me) out there. Otherwise, why even get out of bed in the morning?
If anyone deserves "their day," it's you, my friend : )

Mike said...

Hi Linda! Another way we see eye to eye. And thank you! :-)

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