"You look very nice."
I heard the male voice just behind my left shoulder, as I made my way through the crowds after a long, hot tiring day of selling books at a Florida arts festival. I turned and looked at the gentleman who'd fallen in step with me.
Sweaty, disheveled, and exhausted, I laughed and said, "Wait.. who, me?"
"Yes, you. You look very nice. " Then, he stopped and said, "I'm sorry. I don't mean to be inappropriate."
Normally, I would have just mumbled a quick "thank you" and hurried on. But, he was seemed sincere, polite and respectful. I sensed that I should also stop.
So, I did. And, I waited.
He continued. "I have just decided, 'what the heck' these days. I have so many friends who have died, are dying, or are sick. Life's too short. If I want to say something nice these days... I just say it."
He hesitated, then looked me in the eye and asked, "Is it okay? What I said to you?"
"Of course," I replied. "And, thank you very much. I actually needed to hear that today." Then, we both moved on... in the opposite directions that led to our respective lives.
It's funny how a random, 60-second encounter with a total stranger can continue to rattle around in your brain until you finally stop racing from here to there and really consider what was said.
"Life's too short. If I want to say something nice these days... I just say it."
16 little words that are hugely profound.
I began to think about all the missed opportunities I've had to give a quick compliment, to say something nice to someone, to lift someone up, to encourage, to help...to heal. The reasons for letting the moment pass probably seemed good at the time.
"I'm in a hurry." "They are in a hurry." "I will say something next time." "I don't know them." "They'll reject it." "They'll think I'm weird."
So what? Life's too short.
We are just a few days into the new year. What have you done with your "new start" on the timeline that is your life? We are each given 24 hours every day to DO SOMETHING. Even if that "something" is simply speaking a complimentary or uplifting word to someone we know, or perhaps to someone we don't. We can choose to opt out using any of the above excuses. Oh, you mean these?
"I'm/They're in a hurry." It takes 5 seconds to give a compliment or speak a kind word to someone.
"I will say something next time." What if there isn't a next time for one or both of you?
"I don't know them." Maybe it will lead to an introduction.
"They'll reject it." So? You've still managed to put positive energy out there. It will do some good.
"They'll think I'm weird." Or, they may think you're kind. They may even think you're a gift.
So, here's the deal. Let's go out on a limb and say something nice to someone every day for the next 7 days. Even if it's a total stranger. Perhaps, especially if it's a total stranger. We may make someone's day. We may make our own day!
We will almost certainly make good use of our time.