It was the turn of another man, a man that apparently lived his entire life out of Lebanon. He was extremely happy, filled with beauty and overflowing with satisfaction. He, and his female companion, were eager to park nearby and have a chat: The man seemed to be dying to tell his story to someone, basically anyone. “Ok so, I have two stories to tell you. Ready?” The first was of the reason he was imprisoned, he lived his life in Africa, where planting Marijuana in one’s backyard was common. Upon coming to live in Lebanon, he gave it no thought and thought it was considered the same, therefore he ended up imprisoned for planting (and by the Lebanese law, trading) two plants of Marijuana or “Hasheesh”, that he planted in the first place for personal use only. Eventually he got out of jail pretty soon.
The second story on the other hand left me traumatized for a few seconds. A while back he found out he wasn’t the son of his father, his father is unknown, which, by his own words, flipped his life completely and changed him into another man. He, again by his words, sat down with his mother, spoke of the issue, which ended up getting so emotional. They hugged at the end, a changing point in this man’s life from now on.
Last but not least, and while hearing the man’s two stories, a group of young energetic guys, somewhat stylish and having a very uncommon taste in clothing/general appearance, appeared out of nowhere, and spent the early few minutes hearing the emotional words of the previous man. First thing on their mind was “why are you doing this”. Having had the inner confidence we were good guys and were standing there for a good cause, they started letting go of a little bit more information. The guys were artists, singers and dancers (if you guys are reading this, excuse me but that is all I know so far), totally energetic and having, clearly, that wonderful outlook on the life we live. Eventually they ended up helping us in holding the signs, until their friend (a girl with a huge amount of bags at hand, obviously shopping at the nearby ABC mall) came over and joined us. Sandy was the one to address her, answer her questions, and ask her to tell us her story. The girl seemed to be overwhelmed with studying and working to the point where she needed to let go of that stress by doing her favorite exercise: Shopping. That girl was lucky enough to have a hug from out beautiful Sandy, which brought a smile to my face, seeing how far the Free Hugs Flashmobs have changed us.
I honestly can never forget what happened that day, and if there is any lesson to be shared, that would be to summon back that human touch we are lacking: Listening. Many of you would agree that listening is not easy, it’s an art by itself. To listen and give enough interest and time, that is something of big value.
PS: Thank you Chris for the wonderful title.