When Someone Is Watching


Do you ever wonder if the little things in your life that seem to be so mundane, so insignificant, so repetitive matter much? Reflections make me slowly, thoughtfully nod yes to those questions. And that the answer occurred in such a simple, quiet, fleeting moment in my day – it sped past me at an alarming blip of time. Mere fractions of a second, really. In the amount of time it took me to pass him on the road as he walked to work.

Decades ago I made a new friend. She and I were not very much alike in most ways that new friends are. Most new friendships are built on our similarities – our interests, our talents, our families, our line of work and the like. And none of these things fit us at all. Our backgrounds were polar opposites. Our lives only intersected in one tiny place, yet that was enough to make a life-long friend and one that still breezes through my mind every now and again. You know – a sound, a scent, a flavor, a memory.

I’m a people watcher. Well, I like to be a tad more gracious about myself and use the label observer instead. People are so intriguing when they do not know that you are watching. Sometimes we may cringe at what we put out there. Sometimes we have absolutely no idea what we said or did or shared made the slightest difference to anybody. But I loved watching her. I learned so much about where she came from, how far that truly was, what she had endured, what made her laugh with her whole body. What made her frustrated, what made her cry in that silent, no one knows I am crying kind of way.

I loved watching her with her children. She was single mother who had her work cut out for her. Any single parent does, but when that package comes with special needs that require a mother’s love and nurturing, more especially so. She was an incredibly hard worker, driven to optimism by necessity rather than by choice. As the years ticked by, we bumped lives here and there. Can I just say that I think I loved her with such a deep affection, but I do not even know if I ever told her that. I would have if I could have.

In a quick instant she was gone. Swept away from this life on to the next. I was stunned. I grieved, I worked hard to grasp the why and why now that unsuspecting death often leaves in its wake. And what of her adolescent children? But mostly, how would he manage without his guiding light, his sweet mother, the one who cheered him on, the one who talked him down, the one who talked him through. The voice that said you are enough, you’ve got this?

He is an adult nowadays. I have seen him here and there. Sometimes I say hello and stop to chat, other times I don’t. He doesn’t know me, really. To him I am just a nice stranger. Does everybody treat him with that tenderness that I do when I say hello and ask how he is? Probably not. I wish that they would.

The other day I passed him when I was out scurrying from errand to errand in my overly busy day. He was walking alongside a very busy road. The day was a sunny bright one. He was walking to where he works – a distance of over 5 miles one way, I might add. In that split second of passing him, I saw the contented smile, the cheerful demeanor, an echo of that small troublesome boy that his mother worried so over – how would he manage when he grew up? How would he be safe?

And then it hit me. It hit me hard. All that she had hoped for, had prayed over, had worried so about – it all was right there in beautiful living color walking along with a determination in his step, a swing in his gait, the cheer in his eyes – all when he did not know that someone was watching. Maybe no one really was.

But I was.

And I am certain that she still is.


Black & White

Black and White

When I think of that particular phrase several things ~ P0P ~

Opposites – A Yin and Yang of sorts. The kind that says there is no gray here. The Chinese considered that all things exist as both inseparable yet contradictory opposites. Male-female, dark-light, old-young. There is no middle ground. There is no average or fair. Yet all things circle one another in one great whole. Peacefully intertwined. The yin is the dark swirl, associated with shadows, an encroaching wave, curiosity, the unknown. The yang is the light swirl that represents brightness, passion, growth, anticipation. And on any given day – where am I in this spectrum of living?

Chessmen on a board – Opposing sides in a contemplative yet philosophical battle of wits. The question always hangs unspoken in the air before the match begins: Am I better? Am I smarter? Am I patient enough? Can I refrain from rash and snap judgements that will lead to my undoing? And what are the answers to those questions regarding my opponent? In my relationships whether they be brief, business, personal or lifelong pursuits – those questions still shroud my inner being like a silent mist. Sometimes, most times, I do not remember that they are there. I do not pay much attention to them. Yet if I am honest with myself, I must admit that they carry more weight than that silken mist that carries them.

Pianos – The instrument that is both a primer to music mastery yet a masterpiece of glory to my ears. I have a friend who I consider to be a master here. I find when I hear her play I cannot help myself but to lean back, let my eyes drift to a peaceful close and absorb the beauty she offers as my ears translate the artful blend of sounds, nuances, cadences, the sheer variety of passion that simply draws me in, wraps around me like a comfort to my soul and I float away until the last note sounds and the stillness fades into living again. Breathless. Time in suspension. A much-appreciated pause button for my often frantic life.

Starkness – Contrasts so vivid and obvious that one cannot help to see and either appreciate or bristle at. Sometimes it is a turn in the conversation. Sometimes it is something I witness as a mere bystander. Sometimes it is an unfair dose of grief that seems cruel, hurtful to my soul as undetached from their reality as I am. Starkness can either be severe or an opulence. It is not always a negative for me. The bright night sky with stars ablaze, the deep hues of a glorious sunset, joy so full it spills over into tears that bathe my face in an internal reverence that escapes out of my soul.

Elegance – Classic formal attire that bespeaks affluence, grace, elegance and a sense of status, importance, stateliness. In our daily travels, elegance in our dress is a rarity at best. Much of our wardrobe choosings revolve around comfort, functionality, ease of care. We often sport a jab at the dress code of Walmart goers. But when we see something out of the ordinary – a well-fitted suit with an impeccable tie, a woman who has a flair for fashion that so stands out from the everyday, the ordinary – we take pause and admire the skill, the courage, the power that that image invokes. Do we somehow crave an elegance to living that has faded from our modern scurrying of life? Are we so accustomed to the hurry up of life that we have allowed an elegance to living to become a bygone era?

Photography – Oh the days of old black and while films, right? Given today’s technology impact on film making complete with CGI options and the fast-moving pace of things, when we watch films from decades gone by with their grainy frames and fake night time shots – it humors us! They sped up the horse, they slowed down the river crossings, they kissed passionately on the cheeks. Some are impatient with old films. Some of us just adore them. And what of still photography? With the absence of the distraction of color, one must carefully consume the details, the drama, the subtle nuances of the subject matter. And if it is crafted with a provoking thoughtfulness it can move you to a higher plane, remain with you and nestle down deep into your soul.

Parting thoughts ~ Is anything simply Black and White anymore? Was it ever? Do we really want it to be? I submit that there is great value in the Black and Whites of our world. And I love them.

JMC BW Pocket Watch