I am a master of observation.
I watch people from the edge of a canal-side café or the bow of a houseboat.
I see three tall Dutch girls, dressed in wedges, daintily pull themselves up and over a railing and into a boat that waits for them on an Amsterdam canal. Then I see the driver nudge the engine and the group ride through the canal and out of site. My snapshot of their life is gone.
I watch people at a busy train station, a woman keeping her bag tucked close to her as people mill about, some businessman traveling to a neighboring city, and later, two teenagers with their life savings strapped to their backpack.
I’ve heard people say that in order to fully live, you need to immerse yourself in life; you need to be where the action is happening.
But I watch from the sidelines, seeing life not from the center, where I star as a character, but from the outside, where I can see how people laugh when their friend, the only one who really understands them, tells a joke. And sometimes I can see how one person, not someone you would take as a bird lover, throws his leftover muffin to a sparrow perched on the empty chair beside him.
I’m not missing out on life. I’m seeing life in a different way.
I’m an introvert.
I’ve accepted my personality, despite teachers telling me to raise my hand and participate and friends wondering why I might not be as excited about parties as others.
But sometimes, just sometimes, I need to stop being the observer and let myself be observed.
As Susan Cain suggests, “Occasionally, just occasionally, I hope you will open up your suitcases for other people to see, because the world needs you, and it needs the things you carry.”
Perhaps today is the day I move from the sidelines to the center, to be a part of the action, just once, and let others see me too.
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Ed: B. Bemel