Whether we can see it or not, everyone has pain.
Commuting in a city like San Francisco is not easy. Either you’re late or the bus is, or both. On the bus, you’re packed like a sardine next to someone whose music you can hear through their headphones through your headphones.
After a recent knee surgery, I dreaded the idea of commuting. Sporting a full-leg brace, I was barely able to move. How would I get a person’s attention to ask for a seat? How would I navigate through the masses? How would I stand up and exit before the doors close?
When I finally tried it, I was surprised to find that people pull out all the stops — at all the stops — when they see someone in need. They go out of their way to lend a hand, ear, or shoulder. My visible pain was met with sympathetic glances and in many cases, real conversation. Therapy, almost.
People asked me what happened, how I was coping, and how I was recovering. And then they shared. They shared their own personal stories of pain, coping, and recovery.
Pain, whether physical or emotional, unites us all.
The next time you go outside, know that no matter what’s going on in your heart, mind, or body, you are not alone. If you see someone in need, challenge yourself to connect with her. You may be surprised at what you receive in return. We might call them strangers, but they aren’t that strange at all. We are all in fact, one and the same.
Originally published on Medium.