People watching–Strangers in a familiar land.

It’s something I see and it’s something I hear you talk about. Facebook and other social media platforms are loaded with people watching sites.. I can’t remember the first time I saw the first version online of the “people of Walmart.” Social media has so enhanced the people watching experience, that I often take for granted how important it is to actually watch real people… not just digital input.

But the fact is people watching it’s now a lost art because of social media. What I watch on social media is usually a low life or highlight reel. We are surrounded with sound bites and site bites. Cute puppies, funny kittens, and people we laugh at and want to make fun of. We are inundated with loud politicians and even louder critics of those politician\ns. The non-connected social media news feed where nothing is safe and certainly nothing is sacred. People watching used to be so much fun the truth be told it involved watching living people in live situations. Now we watch on handheld devices peering at digital images. And the poster cries out… “look at me.” “Make this go viral” is the new battle cry. I often forget that those images are actually analog and involve people who feel and have the ability to touch one another.

Then something happens to remind me that people watching is so special. Oh, that is when it is so special. And the opening event of the Center High School 50 year reunion was something very special. A conclave of strangers in a familiar land. Nothing I randomly watch provides more enjoyment than watching my friends from a half century past stirs my heart more.

I found myself in the midst of a large group of familiar strangers… I don’t see many of these folks often… I argue with a few of the on Facebook frequently, for what seems to serve absolutely no purpose. I don’t live in the “why don’t you come over and have a beer with me” proximity with any if these folks. And yet, there I was, looking once again at my history. I absolutely fell in love with just watching people. I see these folks less often than I see people at my local Walmart.

And so the night went. Nothing spectacular, everything memorable. And then in the midst of what is my people watching extravaganza, I get a moment. Nothing is sweeter that being surprised by joy. Nothing surpasses people watching for me, except when it becomes a people involved moment. Sometimes they are moments I hope will actually be. And they indeed did came to fruition.

And then, from out of nowhere, someone appears out of nowhere. It can’t be anticipated, To be Surprised by Joy, it must come out of nowhere. Like a salvation experience. It is something I will never forget. Well maybe at the 100th reunion, I might forget. But this can’t happen at the Walmart. I will never meet a “stranger” at the Walmart when I practice my people watching who will come up to me and say… “I wasn’t going to shop today, but I knew I would see you…. so I came to buy a bag of potatoes.” I will forever be grateful that my “stranger friends” have the courage and boldness to change my life.

So here’s to what is left… Here is to what still lies ahead. Here’s to your moment of boldness. Surprise someone with joy.

May you smile with a Stranger before you just are a memory on a board.

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