Perspectives On The Street

“Dare to turn life on its end, and you may find that topsy-turvy is a truer perspective than turvy-topsy.”

— Robert Brault

I paused to reconsider a few people.

As I ran along side of Union Station after my morning run around the National Mall, I passed a man in a wheel chair. He was reading from the New Testament. He didn’t have any legs. I put a McDonald’s card in his cup. He looked up, paused, and said thanks. I smiled as I resumed my run.

What's your perspective on this house?
(National Gallery of Sculpture)

Tonight, as my daughter and I finished up dinner, we passed a large man sitting by the Metro station. He asked us for something. I handed him a McDonald’s card and asked him if he was getting enough to eat. He paused for a second. “Hey, I got one of those earlier,” he said pulling out an identical card. I looked back when he said, “That’s cool. Thanks a lot.”

After we got into the Metro station, we sat on one of the always-comfortable granite benches. Three teenage boys were standing next to us. They looked like typical teens sipping on giant sodas, but after a few moments, we heard a few notes, then a chorus. Singing a cappella, the boys filled a small corner of the engulfing station with a beautiful rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. Shortly, a couple of giggly girls came over and asked them to sing again. A couple more songs and a late-arriving train ended the impromptu concert. We boarded the train and I listened to them singing quietly. I watched them when they got off, still singing. The girls watched them too, still giggling.

These were just a few of the dozens of people we talked to today – waitresses, cooks, tour guides, baristas, clerks, security guards, etc. The people we interact with every time we go to the store or ride the train. The people we pass on the streets every day. They look a certain way to us, whether they’re sitting on a bench on the street, standing in the subway, or behind a counter. Our perspective dictates how we see them.

What if we changed our perspective? Would those people start looking more like … people? People with hopes, dreams, fears, ambitions, and worries. People with stories.

Changing our perspective isn’t something that takes a lot of money or a grand plan. Next time you’re out walking and see someone, try changing your perspective towards him or her and see what happens.

Maybe you’ll change your tune.

Gave out a couple of McDonald’s gift cards and listened to a few teenage boys singing. I changed my perspective.

About Eric Winger

Our perception of time is key to how we use our time. The most fundamental way to change that perception is to give our time. This opens us up to new opportunities and ideas from which we can build to really make a difference. ... Yes, we *do* have time to make a difference!
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4 Responses to Perspectives On The Street

  1. Kathy says:

    Reminds me of when the famous violinist played in the subway—new york, maybe? Barely anyone stopped to listen. The night before, he’d played a concert and people paid high dollars to listen to him play. Stacia’s youth choir had a ‘concert’ in the New York subways, too! 🙂

    • Eric Winger says:

      Yes, when Joshua Bell played in the subway, no one listened. Context plays a role in what we notice, as that example attests.

      These kids were just having fun, but sounded like stars nonetheless.

      Thanks for the comment, Kathy!

  2. Natalie says:

    “What if we changed our perspective? Would those people start looking more like … people?”

    What a wonderful thought-provoking line! Thank you Eric.

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