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Photo by Marco Chilese on Unsplash

It happens sometimes,
at the strangest times.

Like, check this out:

you’re sitting in a franchise sports bar
watching a football game,
watching other people
watching other games.

You hear a little girl squeal,
and you look over to see this radiant, precious child,
hot-wing sauce smeared over her face
shrieking ecstatically at her brother’s clowning.

A couple tables over
this burly old guy laughs
over his beer
while his burly middle-aged son laughs
over his own beer.

To the rear of them,
an older woman gets up from her side of the booth
moves just as lithe and playful as a teenager
as she trots around the table and slips into the other side
to snuggle into her man’s chest,
as they both giggle, gray-haired and content.

The waitress has sad eyes
after she shuts off the fake smiles
she flashes at her customers;
you see the sadness most when she
goes to stand by the kitchen door,
looking out over her tables gravely
like a shepherd tending her flock,
something a million miles away in her heart.

And you’re just sitting there with your beer and your game
watching this, watching all of this,

and BAM! it hits you — that overwhelming empathy,
not pity, no,
but a deep sense of shared humanity

something you may even call love
if not for your wanting
to never be the sort of person
who says pompous shit like that.

In that strange moment
you get the urge to stand up
and thank each of those people
for being alive.

That would be batshit crazy, of course,
so you don’t do it;

you stay right where you are, silent,
smirking at your sentimentality
yet feeling sentimental still.

And the beer tastes better than before
and the light seems warmer,

as you continue watching your game,
less concerned now with the winning and the losing,

and more content just to witness
the playing.

Written by

I’m not in the Matrix. I AM the Matrix.

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