I was driving back home. It had been one of those days which make you long for the nights.
Down the street, a traffic light turning green. And a pedestrian deciding it was about time to cross.
As I got closer, I took a silent stab at him. I was not impressed. He was overweight, shabby clothes, tired eyes. And crossing when and where he should not.
As most drivers would, I did not wish him many nice things. I was deep into this rather universal game where you are in the driver seat one day, silently cursing at pedestrians, and the other day a pedestrian, silently cursing at drivers.
And then, for some reason I cannot explain, my kids came to my mind. A boy, 20 months old, his two sisters, 5 and 7 years old, the joys of our life. And I thought, well, this man was once a kid. Someone’s kid. Someone’s joy. There were parents, people, who would have done anything to give him the best they could. His eyes must have been full of joy, full of life. And then, life took its toll. As it does on all of us, as it did on me.
30 or 35 years ago, my eyes would have noticed completely different things about him: that he had blue eyes which would have reminded me of my uncles whom I looked up to when I was a kid (and still do). That he was tall like my dad, whom I have not seen for so long because a distance of thousands of kilometers made out of a part of Europe, the Mediterranean sea and a Covid outbreak separate us. That he was wearing moccasins, which were my favorite type of shoes back then (a bit less now).
And overweight? Little did I know at the time that I too will become overweight at some point in my life, because life can do that to you sometimes. Many times…
All these thoughts crossed my mind in a fraction of a second. By the time he was on the other side, I was already seeing him with different eyes. The child he had once been was in front of me and the man himself had waned.
It has only been a week or so since that day, and although “ever since” would sound like a lot of time right now, still, “ever since” that day, I try to see the child they once were in the folks I meet, especially the challenging ones. The child they no longer are for reasons I can only try to imagine, or the one they might still be if you only scratch the surface.
No easy task, especially over skype, but once you nail it down, if you nail it down, it makes things a little easier on you. A different perspective.
This quest for a long gone childhood makes me miss my children, wanting to rush whatever that is I am doing just to be with them a little earlier. I miss them right now actually, even though they are downstairs playing. Man are they loud. I can hear them now and so can my client, an investment bank in the United Kingdom…
But hey, children playing in the background have become the norm in business meetings in 2021, and I have grown wise enough these last two years to find it very fortunate. It brings a touch of poetry into an otherwise relatively grey activity.
And I bet my client in the UK would not disagree. So, dear client, let me know what you think…
Let the board sound