There are a lot of us living on this planet; a whole mess of people living and working and breathing every second of every day. I find it a little scary. Imagine if you could hear them all, breathing in the night. It would be a howling, mournful wind blowing through the sky. It would be deafening.
I thought of it after I woke up from a Sunday nap and a quick stroll to the corner store to buy some cigarettes and junk food. I got back to my apartment and it was so quiet. Late Sunday morning, the Bears game had yet to start, so it was quiet. I could hear my apartment building though. I could hear all the other people moving about, creaking across their floors or hear some distant pounding noise or even water in the bathroom pipes sloshing around. I could hear doors opening and closing. I could hear faint conversations outside and I realized it wasn’t all that quiet after all.
It made me remember not to be so selfish with my life. Not that I have to give more of myself, but that I have to be more generous with people and their lives. We tend to become very insulated and solitary while pursuing our own activities and sometimes we forget all the other people in the world. We forget about their tragedies, their pains, their joys, their unforgivable sins, their redemption, their regrets.
It’s hard to see them sometimes, even when they are right in front of us on the train or the bus or even as we pass them, fully insulated in our cars. We forget that that we really are all part of the same family. The same bits that created the universe, the trees, the sun is in each and every one of us.
I thought about these people and their silences. I wondered how often other people just sit and listen to the collective humanity and feel a sense of fearful wonderment. I thought about the beautiful women at a Halloween party I went to the night before. I thought about the mess we left behind. I thought about each thing people laughed at, or talked about and wondered what it was about their own lives that made them laugh or not laugh. I wondered why they chose to wear the costume they did. I wondered about each choice they made in their lives to wind up at this particular Halloween party.
I stood in my apartment window for a bit, watching the traffic flow on the streets. I wondered where everybody was going, where they were coming from. I wondered whose path I crossed and how that crossing effected their day; if it had any effect at all. I thought about the people whose life I do want to effect and I wondered if they knew or could feel that want from me.
I turned on my TV to hear the cheers and roars from the crowd gathered for the Bears game and I imagined all those people, breathing together and smiling or booing or yelling. I felt small and large all at once.