Learning to gain different perspectives on people or situations is a skill everyone should value. When we see through the eyes of another, that’s when we truly understand how they feel.
Recently, a couple of my friends and I went out downtown to explore. It was a very spontaneous outing. We visited amazing locations in the city and had tons of fun doing it. However, thinking back at it, the things we did weren’t necessarily the only memories that stuck with me.
Let’s start with the very beginning, at a book store. It wasn’t your typically fancy high end bookstore, this was a used/trade-post bookstore. Cluttered with books over books, you practically couldn’t see a single shelf, let alone a wall! It was amazing to find so many interesting books; some I never knew I even wanted.
The man who ran the store was extremely nice and cheery. Although his store was obviously not as super popular –maybe not even gaining much profit–, he kept a caring and composed attitude. He gave us a complementary chocolate after we bought the books, and apologized previously after having to turn down the books we brought to trade due to over stock.
The next store over was the same type of booktrading post. Similarly cluttered and amazing, the feel of it seemed different. While the others searched for books, I found myself listening to owner talk on the phone (I know I am a horrid person). He was complaining to someone about these men who were coming in his store and never buying anything. He seemed very distressed and possibly angry. Nonetheless, the second we came over to him with a book to buy, he smiled and helped us out. Laughing along with some of our goofy antics.
It was then I really grasped the situation. The ongoing battle between bookstores in this dying field. I vaguely remember the owner of the second store standing outside watching us leave his competitors store with a disappointed look in his eyes. And as we came into his store, it was almost as if they lit up.
I was truly inspired by the work both men put into their shops despite the low popularity. People like them, who power through life’s toughest, are truly the really heroes of this story.
Then came a darker side of the day, along a main road mid-city. As we walked in search of a hot beverage, we heard a loud angry scream. With a quick glance, I saw the man who yelled, a beggar. The lady who he had screamed at looked quite terrified. Me being me, was also horrified. So as we walked by, I averted my eyes and tried my best not to get noticed.
Unfortunately, life would not let me off that easy. The man scowled at us as we passed without paying him. While walking away, we shared nervous and shock glances as the man swore at us and called us vulgar names.
Now, reevaluating the situation, I am stuck trying to decide what that man really was. Was he just a hungry beggar, tired of being ignored? Or was he a fake, trying to get extra money to buy alcohol. We can never really know for sure, but had I given him the money he asked for, would he have been grateful or even kind?
Life has so many different angels to view it by. That day I saw a part of life so true and pure. Its not all puppy dogs and rainbows for everyone. I learnt how we never can see a person for what the really are entirely, but we can try to understand. We can try to see how they see and use that to help them.
Take a walk in someone else’s shoes.