A friend of mine once told me that there are times she has wished she could hug people in the street and tell them “You are a luminous being!” There’s a reason why we’re friends. This is a desire I know well.
A group of us sat at a table outside of the bar. It was summer, years ago now, although I remember the night quite clearly. We sat for hours, just drinking and talking and laughing and watching the world go by.
At some point I mentioned how funny it was to see so many faces pass by us without recognizing a single one. I think he thought that I was saying I hoped to see someone we knew, but what I was really saying was “Look! Look at all of this burning possibility. Look at all of these strangers that we have yet to befriend. Look at all of these exciting, astonishing people, so different and yet so similar. Look at the way each one shines, as brightly as the stars above us, as deeply as the summer night. Look at the way we are all so connected.”
What I was really saying was “Look! Look at all of this potential for love.”
People-watching is my favorite pastime. I have spent more hours than I can count sitting quietly in parks and cafes and airports, just watching and listening and writing. I like to sit back and observe. I like to be quiet enough to recognize goodness and beauty when I see it. And I see it, all the time, everywhere.
Yes, there are horrible things that happen in this world, things that can never be justified or understood – disease, war, bigotry, hate, violence, loss. It’s unwise to shut ourselves off from it, to pretend it isn’t happening, as much as we wish that were true. It’s unwise to stop fighting for what’s right and good and important.
But it’s also unwise to stop believing that there is goodness already here. It’s all around us. It’s within us. It’s the potential for love that burns through us like stars. It’s luminous. It’s beautiful. It’s everywhere.
And you can call me foolishly optimistic. I don’t mind. I’m too in love with the world to worry about appearing foolish. That’s what love does, after all. That’s what love is, and hopefully will be, all my life.
I love people-watching because I love people, and not just the ones I’ve met. I love people as a species, as creatures who create and feel and inspire.
I love life, and not just my own. I love the earth for being alive, and for being the keeper of so many living things, and so many non-living things, and so many things lingering in between.
I love my existence, and more than that, I love all of existence. I love getting to be a part of it.
I love love, and not just the love I already feel, but the possibilities for love that exist everywhere, for all of us.
How can I even begin to describe such foolish optimism?
It feels like a light, burning at the very center of me, pulsing and expanding and pouring through every inch of my being like some unstoppable force. And when I smile, that’s the light pushing through. And when I cry, my tears act as tiny prisms, dripping with light, casting rainbows across my cheeks. And when I laugh, that’s the light spontaneously bursting within me, erupting into the universe to resonate in the abyss.
That’s what it feels like to be me, or at least, that’s the best I can explain it. I am a light, a fire, an explosion of joy. I burn with love and life and the enchanting potential for more. I wonder and wander through the world, smiling and laughing and loving. I am a luminous being. And so are you, dear strangers and friends.
Trust me. I know. I have quietly sat back and observed. I have watched you flash by in flames.