Today I got out and did some free listening in Balboa Park, near the most photographed spot in all of San Diego, in the center of the cultural center of the city.
Many people wanted to take photos of the sign, and I happily gave a confirming gesture and said "go ahead." Others looked away and pretended
I wasn't there.
The vast majority of encounters though were smiles, laughs, and encouraging words like "haha, that's cool," "great idea" and "that's very creative."
Often a member of a group would realize what the sign said and alert their friends. Then there would usually be some ooos and awsss. Often this would cause some sort of embrace between people, so I was happy to see that although not every stopped to talk, they still connected with a loved one after witnessing the display.
When I would tell people I am here to offer them a safe space to express whatever's on their mind, with no possibility of judgment, they sometimes would not believe me, asking more questions, curiosity practically oozing from their engaged eyes.
I would answer questions to put any suspicions of an alterior motive to bed, purify my intention, breathe, and speak from a place deep within in order to make them feel safe, and remind them I am not here to get anything from them, simply making a pure offering of my attention.
" I don't have any money," one smiley woman dressed in slick summer clothes said, gesturing both hands in an upward motion. I said while she was still in earshot, "I don't want any money, I want you!"
Another woman asked why I am here, and I simply responded with, "I'm here for you."
Another another woman assured me that I didn't want to talk to her and I said in response "maybe not, but I'd like to at least try listening to you."
She said I'd be too much for her to handle, that she usually "scares people away." I said "not me, I'm not going anywhere."
She continue her self-rampage saying, "she'd only abuse me," and again I reassured her that while I would not let her abuse me, I would definitely listen to her with all my heart.
I can handle it, I said. And it's true. Many conversations I had made me realize that people assume that what I'm doing takes tremendous amounts of energy. That to be a friend to someone, or simply be there to listen to someone who has something to say is an energy-draining act. I disagree completely and I tried to find the right verbiage to convince people of the truth, which is that I go out and listen because it gives me energy, it allows my full hearts's intention to be fulfilled and it allows me to fill up my well of love for the human race, all members of it, not just the ones who look, act, and live the way I do...but everyone.
I have equal love for all, the shoobies (hey arnold reference) in low-hanging pants blasting misogynistic rap music with the words "pussy" and "bitches" blaring out of their portable speakers. The folks whimsically wheeling themselves around in motorized wheelchairs, holding hands, looking quizzically in each direction before asking each other "is it left or right..." it's left..."no your left!"
I love all the people I see. The ones who stop. The ones who keep walking. The ones who are impacted. The ones who don't even notice.