SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 296: “If You Are Happy… You Can Also Make Others Happy”

“Chin up and eyes open to the world,” something I say frequently to the many people whom I meet on the streets; and, words that I have not published for far too long. A philosophy that today brings me close to two new friends, husband and wife Suresh and Anita, who within only four blocks of my home I meet while on an end of day walk to pick up a bite to eat.

I run into them through an exchange of greetings as we share curb in waiting to cross an intersection.

Hailing from India, Suresh and Anita arrived to America only three short months ago, relocating for career reasons. It’s amazing how within such a short distance of my home, and inside of my own neighborhood, can be found the greatest diversity of all faiths, ethnicities and political points of view; people who, pulling from their endless set of life histories, all have a plethora of wisdom to impart.

Suresh and Anita are two such people, and in their being new to America, I feel it a privilege to be able to welcome them as community friends. Makes me wonder how often do we pass strangers, and inadvertently, due to schedules or fears, turn away from the opportunity to expand our social horizons. And at day 296 of my 365 social experiment, I’m understanding that these special moments happen more often than we acknowledge, and have first hand witnessed that if we take hold of them, the rewards are great in growing us closer to our fellow humans.

Even the shortest of conversations can be impactful in bringing not only change to our own hearts, but in being of positive influence to the outlooks of those we associate with.

Readers, I have to thank you for your support in staying with me on this one year challenge. You are a wonderful group who I hope have been able to look past my consistent rants and ravings, and are able to find there links to the council that so many have shared with us.

I openly admit, at times I feel a bit like a broken record. It’s just after speaking with close to one thousand strangers; the idea of a closer respect for one another is getting imbedded under my skin. So bear with me, or better yet, join me in saying your daily hellos to the world around you.

So here we are, Suresh, Anita and myself, standing on a street corner, backed by the soundscape of heavy commuter traffic. It is loud and deafening, but emitting from it are occasional bursts of rolled down applauds of encouragement given by several motorist who have been looking on as we shoot photos. Yet another testament to the fact that there really are people who are engaged with one another, and from this, we are further encouraged as we speak of community.

Over the hum of said passing motorists Suresh thumbnails his perspective on humanity, “Help each other… if we help each other the whole world gets better.”

I turn to Anita for her wisdom, without pause… “Follow your heart, don’t let others direct your path. Don’t listen to others who try to spoil your life… just follow your heart.

Don’t do stuff just because of what somebody else is saying. Listen to what you feel… and do that.

It is very important to be happy. Otherwise you are always sad because somebody else asked you to do something that you did not intend to do.

So choose to be happy… and if you are happy… you can also make others happy.”

Suresh and Anita, like I mentioned, have only been in America for three months. I’m sure a huge cultural shock in relocating from India. Yet there is a glow in their eyes that says, We are at home.”

Perhaps it may be somewhat presumptuous of me, but I think I know the core reason for that tranquility. Suresh and Anita simply care about people. For in the way they accepted me with the warm gestures they express in first meeting me, I felt of their compassion for the world around them, a world that Suresh obviously cares greatly about.

“We are using a lot of resources…” he appeals, “…it’s better to say no, than to waste any resource. They are the things that are helping us to survive. We are in risk of finishing all our natural resources. We can’t keep using them all up.”

Anita listens intently to Suresh’s plea, and although agreeing with his observation, takes time to add her own commentary on modern society. “We are getting more and more into the Internet for communication and we are losing touch with people because of video games and stuff. And, the real life of playing on the ground, especially the kids, the future generation youngsters, is getting lost. They are more into the video games and the Internet than of actual activity. They are really not moving around… interacting with people. It concerns me that interaction is going down, at least with people who are urban.”

Makes me think about how we met. Not in a viral world, not through a social network, but face to face. Walking through urban nirvana in route to getting dinner. In a world of delivered food, drive through calories and every type of store-bought frozen delight, it is comforting to know that there are people who do slow down to smell the roses (metaphorically speaking). For in the eye of the city storm, there can be found calm. A calm that transcends the noise of the pavement and can settle the most rushed of modern minds… a calm that can only be described as an appreciation of fellow-man.

And today, a calm that I am happy to say is brought to me via the outstretched welcome of my new friends, Suresh and Anita.

Welcome to the neighborhood my friends; I’m sure we’ll run into each other again!

And Anita, your are right on the mark, “If you are happy… you can also make others happy.”