“When you honor your emotions you are honoring your healing and growth.” Ashley Przywolski
Earlier this week, I noticed a moving truck parked across the street from my apartment. Which is not uncommon in my neighborhood, especially at the beginning of the month.
I figured it was for a random unit in the building directly across the street from me, so I didn’t pay it any mind.
The next day, as I began my morning routine, I realized the couple whose balcony is at eye level with mine—who have lived in the apartment directly across the street from my bedroom for the past seven years—were the ones moving.
I suddenly, and unexpectedly, became emotional, and I started to cry.
What was even more surprising to me is that I didn’t know the couple. Although I knew what time they turned off their lights at night to go to bed, when they each left in the morning to go to the gym, and what day they went grocery shopping, I had never talked to them before. Why was I having such a strong emotional reaction?
I remember during the quarantine part of the pandemic, I told my old roommate that the young couple who lived across the street always gave me a sense of solace. Seeing them go about their daily routine made me feel connected and gave me a sense of safety.
After composing myself from my unexpected morning cry, I thought about walking across the street and telling my neighbors, who I had never talked to before, that I was going to miss them. I wanted to ask where they were moving to and why they were leaving. But I had a meeting and so I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye.
A few hours later, while making some lunch, I saw one of the neighbors pull up in his car. It looked as though he had forgotten something and so I thought to myself, “This is it! Go be vulnerable and say goodbye!”
I ran downstairs and hurriedly crossed the street. My neighbor was just about to pull away when I yelled, “Excuse me, excuse me!”
He looked at me through his half-rolled-down car window surprised and on guard. I said (still catching my breath), “My name is Chris and you lived across the street from me for as long as I’ve lived in my apartment!” Like a young child saying goodbye to a friend at the end of the school year, I told my no longer stranger neighbor how sad I was to see him leave. His face immediately softened and I could feel the tears well up in my eyes. We shook hands and I told him it was nice to have been neighbors. I also wished he and his partner the very best before he finally drove away.
It’s been two days since my neighbors, Joe and Marie, moved. I still get emotional when I happen to catch a glimpse of their now empty balcony. It’s made me think about change and how fleeting life is.
It’s also made me think about how easy it can be to take the simple things in life for granted. Who knew that the couple living across the street from me for seven years, who used to water their plants on Sunday and grocery shop on Wednesday, meant so much to me?
I recently shared the story of my neighbors with a friend of mine and she got emotional herself and began to cry. She said it reminded her of someone who used to work at a nearby store she regularly shopped at who unexpectedly died. While my friend didn’t know the person, she was used to seeing them once a week.
By virtue of coexisting with one another on the same planet, the people we see and interact with on a daily basis hold a special place in our psyches and sometimes, despite our knowing it, even inside of our hearts.
One of my favorite spiritual teachers, Caroline Myss, gave a powerful TEDx talk called, “Choices that can Change your Life.” In it, she offers a beautiful prayer that helps me remember to not take the events, and people, in my daily life for granted:
This day of my life will never come again. I will never see the people I am looking at again. I will never see this sunrise again and I will never see that sunset. I will never see the person having breakfast with me again. Just this way. You know, nothing in my life like this will ever come again.
Whether it’s a neighbor’s unexpected move or the start of something new, what’s important is our capacity to hold change in our hearts and honor our emotions.
The more we tap in and connect to our lives, the more we will see how the people around us serve a much bigger purpose and link us together in ways we may never fully realize.