This quote has become an important cornerstone for the way I live my life: always remembering that each person's experience is mostly hidden from the naked eye of the observer.
As J. Shep Jeffreys says in his book Helping Grieving People:
"You never know what is going on inside someone else's mind--the person walking
by you on the street, standing behind you at the checkout stand, waiting at the stop light
in the car next to you, smiling hello as you enter the elevator, serving you coffee
or sitting across the aisle in the commuter train--what he is she is thinking.
How much pain or rage is tearing at a person's heart
or how much an individual is struggling just to make it through another day at work."
We often underestimate the power of compassion. Of empathy. Of random acts of kindness, and simple gestures of thoughtfulness. The stories we keep hidden behind a practiced smile and the burdens we shield away from view within contrived personas are each person's quiet journey.
Many among our society are quick to believe that they understand those they interact with based on a few minute seconds of communication or contact. In most cases this is untrue. The outward-facing person an individual shows to others frequently does not truly reflect their inner state of being.
I ask you to keep this in mind. Remember this throughout your day today--wherever your day might lead you, and practice the compassion of living with the intention to honor each person you meet for the stories and realities they are truly living (even if they do not appear to be struggling).