There was I, quick-stepping my way through the shopping centre, headed firmly towards the supermarket. A small list of things to buy was jogging its way through my brain ‘Tofu, dips, coconut milk, curry powder, stir-fry sauce, popcorn…’ My friend Ness and I had come in together, her to the mobile phone shop, me to the supermarket. ‘I’ll meet you back here as soon as I’m done!’ I said, in just a tiny bit of a flurry. (We were cutting it fine to get to our next destination before they closed.) There was I, quick-stepping my way through the shopping centre, headed firmly towards the supermarket…
There was he, at one of those centre of the walkway set-ups where they entice you in for a product demonstration of whatever the new, amazing ‘must have thing’ they’re selling is. He happened to be selling organic skincare. Now, I almost always avoid the persistent summoning of such sales people. I’m perfectly capable of going into my nearest organic shop and making my purchasing decisions solo, thank you very much. When confronted with such sales people, oftentimes part of my brain goes into hastily preparing my immediate retreat from the interaction… Just like it did today… ‘I don’t want to buy this thing!’ my brain started yelling. (Which, if you knew the exact state of my financial affairs at the moment, you would understand that this is a totally rational response. If it wasn’t for the fact that food is such an extremely high value of mine, I’d be living off two-minute noodles right now and not buying anything at all!) The guy who had drawn me in was indulging in a rather amusing little play of testing out his mind-reading skills on me… I played along, and grinned as I managed to foil his little games purely, it seems, by being my atypical self… But even as I was playing along, I’d slammed a wall up in this interaction – ‘I don’t want to buy anything!’ Two people met today, two perfect examples of humanity, and one of them brought a really big wall with her.
Now, I know as well as the rest of the population, that friendly banter, flattery, and a whole heap of attention in this context are sales tactics… But, if we drop our labels, if we stop seeing him as ‘salesman’ and me as ‘customer’, what does it become then? What if we get to seeing this product he was selling as simply and perfectly the conduit for our connection today? In what other context would a complete stranger approach another complete stranger in the middle of a shopping centre and have that interaction evolve into gentle, attentive physical touch within seconds? Yeah, seems almost an impossibility when you frame it like that, right? Highly unlikely at the very least. Without the comforting costume of ‘you salesman- me customer’, I would never have found myself in the middle of a shopping centre, gazing down as an interesting and entertaining man gently caressed my hands and the soft skin of my wrists with his fingertips. If I’m making it sounds sensuous, it’s deliberate… Because, in a dozen other contexts, it would be. It was. I grinned as I lowered my wall a little. ‘I like this’ I thought to myself ‘I like this gentle physical attention.’ In a curious little way, it felt like Life sent this man to remind me that my skin, this physical self of mine, is beautiful and worthy of attention… Which is perfect, because I’ve been seeing myself as more beautiful and worthy everyday… Everyman is my mirror.
Now, as our banter crossed the line into definitely flirtatious… (Cue him asking something along the lines of ‘Do you get dirty often?’ (In reference to a product.) and me replying with a cheeky grin ‘It depends on the context.’ Yes, that’s part of my idea of flirting. And yes, I also think I’m quite amusing!) I let my ‘I don’t want to buy anything!’ wall drop completely, and got to refocusing on the relationship at hand. ‘Cause that’s the important bit, that’s always the important bit. And yes, regardless of the presence of flirting or not, the relationship is always the important bit. The roles and costumes we cast ourselves in are so, so, so secondary. ‘Salesman’, ‘customer’, ‘friend’, ‘partner’, ‘parent’, ‘child’ etc etc… They’re all just roles we’re playing, They may be the wiring, but they’re not the electricity.
Some of our relationships may be a single bare bulb, others a thousand chandeliers lit up to rival the midday sun… But they are all conduits for the same ‘electricity’, they are all expressions of Love. Yes, every single relationship is an opportunity to burn brighter with Love. Every. Single. Relationship. No one is exempt. The cashier at the supermarket, the grumpy old man who lives over the back, the homeless guy who said ‘Hello’ to you this morning – All opportunities to burn brighter with Love. No relationship is too small to be a conduit of Love. Get that into your good self – No relationship is too small, or too fleeting to be a conduit of Love. Know this – Your loving attention has already made deep and resounding impact in ways you will never be intellectually aware of, in the lives of people you may have even forgotten. (The same of course goes for any other form of attention, which makes it all the more important that you practice giving loving attention.)
So I took away the labels of ‘salesman’ and ‘customer’, and I completely dropped my wall of ‘I don’t want to buy anything!’… And, even though flirting is fun, my shift in perspective had nothing to do with that. It had to do with the fact that I believe that no one appears in my life accidentally, and that I practice and practice and practice the willingness to see every person in front of me as who they truly are – my spiritual equal, my perfect mirror and teacher. So we got to talking, this man with practiced gentle touch and I… He asked me what I did… ‘I’m a writer.’ I declared (It still feels a powerful declaration every time I say it.)… To which he exclaimed ‘I’m so glad I stopped you!’ (Of course! Now that I’d actually turned up to being there, of course he was glad he stopped me – Loving attention will do that.) Turns out he writes some of his ponderings, and has been thinking about studying creative writing… He pulled out his iPhone to show me some of his musings and I pulled out a little stack of ‘Big Love Byte’ cards to share. He read his chosen ‘Big Love Byte’ out loud as I stood there. When he finished reading, he spontaneously hugged me. It made us both smile. Our whole interaction made me buzz so much that I forgot to buy popcorn… And I’ve spent hours now writing and thinking about the whole thing and how sweet it was, and what brilliant story I could extrapolate from it to share with you, my reader friend.
The world saw two ‘strangers’ meet in a shopping centre… They called him ‘salesman’ and her ‘customer’… But Love saw what Love always sees – a connection, an outlet for its electricity, and an opportunity for both of them to walk away brighter with love. Beautifully, we both took our costumes off and let that act change the entire scene. Two brilliant individuations of Love gave each other a beautiful reflection… However briefly, another chandelier lit up, and I loved the light. Yes, yes, yes I did.