ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

People Watching: Let Your Light Shine

Updated on February 5, 2013
Source

They come in every color, size, and shape. Some are quick-stepping and flamboyant while others are slow and methodical. You pass them on the street or in your favorite store and some greet you with a smile while others turn their head and pretend not to see. People are quite fascinating if you take the time to watch them.

I became obsessed with people watching many years ago. My belief that we were all basically the same was shattered when I began to notice the unique behaviors of people who looked very similar. A more careful examination of people in a crowd revealed that people with very similar appearances often demonstrated very unique behaviors. As a student of life, I became an ardent people watcher.

Over time, I realized that our basic needs are the same. We all need food, shelter, water, and air to sustain life. But that is where our similarities turn into a plethora of differences.

What is it that makes us so varied? What is it in our genetic design that makes us so different?

Let’s talk about some of differences and have a little fun.

Posture

While sitting in a physician’s office recently, I began to notice the variations in posture among those waiting for appointments. Young or old, black or white, male or female , there is no standard. Some folks sit tall and erect, feet flat on the floor as if ready to jump on a moment’s notice. Others slump in their seats as if they have forgotten they aren’t at home watching their favorite sitcom in their favorite chair. Still other sit on the edge of their seat, head hanging down as if to look up might force them to acknowledge the person sitting beside them.

Stride

Are you geared to race to the next stop or do you lumber along, enjoying the scenery as you go? Look around you sometime. Some people move like their tail is on fire, as if they are afraid to stop for fear of their engine not starting again. Some appear frantic while others are as elegant as a thoroughbred horse. And then there are those who seem to just be smelling the roses as they go. Surely they must be noticing everything around them; the color of the carpet, the light filtering through the skylight, or the scent of dozens of perfumes and after-shaves that have melded together in a kaleidoscope of fragrance.

Fashion

Have you noticed how some people can look like a GQ model in a pair of faded jeans and a flannel shirt while others look like they should be digging ditches or mucking stalls? How can it be, that two people with the same body type, the same age, and coloring, can look so different in the same fashion style? Two middle-aged gentlemen can put on the same khaki pants and a polo shirt and one will look distinguished and the other – disheveled. Oh yes, we are fascinating creatures, aren’t we?

Hair

I love the new messy, scrunched hairstyles but to be honest, that’s how they look on me – messy. Some women can wear the “big” hair and look like a Vogue cover while another looks like a leftover from the 60’s. Look around you. How is that some women look like Beyonce with her mane of luxurious hair while someone else looks like the rear end of a horse? Same hair, same body, same facial shape but there is a startling difference in the overall look. Ever wonder why?

Shoes

Some people have a foot fetish. I don’t. Personally, I don’t want to touch someone else’s feet and I don’t want them touching mine. I don’t honestly know why. But I do like to look at people’s feet. I am fascinated by the shoes people wear and I don’t understand why some women will stuff their size 10 feet in a size 8 shoe and think they look nice. Another mystery is why some people will spend a lot of money on a pair of leather boots and then never put a coat of polish on them. In my years of people watching, I’ve noticed people who spend more on a pair of athletic shoes than they spend on their spouse’s birthday and then never wash them.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. Our feet are important and should be comfortable in whatever style shoe we choose to wear. But I have to ask – can comfort really exist in those 6 inch high spike heels or those hairy boots that look like they still have a heartbeat? Really?

Food

My most fascinating study of people came in a popular chain restaurant that served an unlimited salad bar. I became fascinated by the individualized building of a simple salad. Building a salad seems to be a very technical process for some people. Just sit and watch sometime.

Some folks will make a plate of all the side salads. They will place dab of potato salad beside a sample of fruit salad and then carefully add a dollop of cottage cheese, being careful not to let any of them touch each other. Another person will carefully craft a healthy salad of all the vegetables but each item has a predetermined place in the arrangement. There seems to be a hierarchy that must be followed or, it’s not a perfect salad. Do the vegetables really care? Does a salad taste different if you rearrange the vegetables? The answer is still a mystery to me.

The Moral of This Story

Yes, every story has a moral even if the storyteller has to tell you what it is. The moral of this story is that we can learn a lot about the human race by watching people. It doesn’t matter where you are, just look for a crowd, large or small, and sit back and take notice. You’ll discover that although we are very similar in some ways, we are a diverse species with unique styles, body language, and tastes. What makes us so different?

My hobby of watching people has led me to the following conclusion:

We are what we are because of how we feel about ourselves and our surroundings. If we feel good about ourselves, we shine from within. If we do not, our light grows dim. It makes no difference what we wear or how we sit; how fast we move or the style of our shoes. We are – the light within us.

When we are living with purpose, it doesn’t matter how we build our salad or how big our hair is. Our spirit shines and touches the world around us with an invitation to be joyful. When we are living a life of compassion and participating in this experience we call life, we invite others to join us without a word. We say it with our persona, the very essence of who we are.

The moral of the story is – be your best self and never concern yourself with what you think others want you to be. Build your salad your way. Stand tall or relax. Move quickly or deliberately. It doesn’t matter as long as you let your light shine! From within.

© 2013 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”Ralph Waldo Emerson

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • PoeticVine profile image

    Leanna Stead 4 years ago from North Carolina, United States

    I like. :)

    The bit about the salad got me especially, as I am one of those people carefully arranging veggies. I make rather a game of it, actually... lettuce (or spinach leaves, if they have them) as a bed, then cucumbers arranged in a circular "perimeter", cherry tomatoes in a similar fashion but a smaller ring, carrots and mushrooms in the middle, hard boiled egg off to the left side (I'm left-handed), and bacon bits, if I use them, sprinkled atop the carrots and mushrooms as a "centerpiece garnish".

    I then proceed to obliterate this whole careful arrangement with dressing. Go figure.

    Well-writtten with a healthy dose of humor and genuine appreciation for people, who are indeed fascinating creatures. :)

  • xstatic profile image

    Jim Higgins 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

    Up all the way across on this one. It is entertaining and original too. I am a people watcher as well. I have sold shoes in this lifetime, and that was both entertaining and frustrating.

  • Faith Reaper profile image

    Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

    LOL, what a great hub here, and I am one who is thrilled to know of another people watcher!!! When we (my husband and I) were broke and did not have a penny to our name (kind of like now - lol), my daughter was about two and a half years old and we lived in an apartment then. My husband worked crazy shift hours, so for entertainment (for myself), I would take my daughter to the local mall (which has now been closed for many years due to gang violence and one could easily be shot), but I digress . . . at the time, the then mall had a huge water fountain everyone threw their pennies in, and she loved it. I would sit there, really enjoying watching all the different people. I was just in awe of people, just as you are . . . I mean I really loved to watch them and I would just sit there for hours while my daughter was thrilled to run around the huge fountain and throw pennies in it. LOL I really learned a lot about human nature, and that is, yes, we are all unique and that is what makes this world so very interesting---as you say, just let our light so shine----brilliantly!!! Then we would venture off to the park with the beautiful pond surrounded by willows and a variety of ducks, where I would also enjoy watching people, and then for the finale, go to the children's art museum at the Shakespeare museum and park, and REALLY love watching the parents in horror watching their children doing stuff they ought not to be doing. LOL Thanks for taking me down memory lane. My son was not born at the time, and that is a whole another set of adventures . . .

    This is a very delightful, entertaining and useful read here! So thanks!

    Voted up +++++ and sharing

    Hugs and love, and thanks for letting your light so shine brilliantly as always, Faith Reaper

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Your conclusion is right on, Kindred. How we feel about ourselves will be shown in our actions day in and day out. I love to go to the park and watch the people walk by. Bev and I will guess what they do for a living based on their appearance and mannerisms. Great fun!

    Love your writing my friend!

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    "Within the shell of our appearance and our acceptance, is a heart beat, each to a different drummer, but all with the symphony of life. Do not call me wicked or a lost cause, call me friend and suffer with me" (ed 1984)

  • Mhatter99 profile image

    Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

    Great hub! People have been my best mirrors. A gift I learned from that "evil" oil company.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    PoeticVine - I know your type, the salad builder who constructs a salad as f there was a blueprint. lol Thanks for reading my hub and honing in on my fascination with the salad creators of this world. I'll be watching for you next time nd I'll know you by the hard boiled egg on the left side of your plate. :-)

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Jim, I am so glad you enjoyed this one and I really appreciate the votes. My mind is always searching for something different to write about. Today I was in a medical office and the stark contrast among the people waiting just smacked me in the face and I started writing descriptive words on a piece of paper. Alas, a hub was born. I can only imagine the tales that an ex-shoe salesman could tell. As has been said, when the student is ready, the teacher will come. We only have to be open to receive the lesson. And that is how this one evolved. Thanks for your support.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Dear Faith, you are so precious and what a great mother you must be. Even in the leanest of times, you found delightful things for your child to do that both entertained and provided "mommy" time. I think that's just beautiful. I love your stories. This hub was written on a whim and I am pleasantly surprised by the response it has already received. It just proves that if you are open to the possibilities in this life, good things come. Thank you for sharing your memories and spending time on my silly hub.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Bill, your light shines like a beacon in the night. Never doubt it. I love that you and Bev are people watchers too. When I think of how much fun I have doing it and then compare it to what some people spend for entertainment, I can't help but giggle. It makes me feel like a genius. lol Hugs to you and your lovely sidekick.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Eric - your comment speaks volumes. Thanks so much for the visit and for sharing wise words.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi MH! I love your analogy of the "mirror". That evil oil company did you a favor. Thanks for sharing.

  • profile image

    Vickiw 4 years ago

    Enjoyed your account of people watching opportunities you have discovered, Irc7815. It is good to remind ourselves of the cheap entertainment that our fellow planet dwellers provide for us ina daily basis.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    I love the moral to this hub, Linda. It is so true. How you feel about yourself has everything to do with how you carry yourself.

    People watching is fascinating. I think one of my favorite sights when I people watch is an older couple walking hand in hand. It fills me with hope and joy!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Vickiw - thanks for the visit and the great comment. People watching is defintely a budget-friendly pasttime. lol

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Shauna, I love to watch elderly couples too. Where oh where did those loving relationships go in our generation? :-)

  • Amy Becherer profile image

    Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    I love the way you surmise, Linda, as your kindness and acceptance lights up the room with the warmth of candlelight. And, I adore the quote you closed your beautiful piece with by Ralph Waldo Emerson. When I was working, I was a slave to my own form of fashion and I got attention even in the grocery store. It was a hard habit to break and even after my layoff I dressed to please. My mom enjoyed the attention I got and kind comments. Now, I have old, weathered clothing and look like I feel most days; like my own version of a baglady. LOL When I took my mom to the grocery store last week, I saw a very attractive, older woman dressed to the hilt, from her hat to her beautiful boots. I looked at her and said "You look like Hollywood." She then smiled a Hollywood smile and said "why, thank you." And, you know what, Linda? I felt as good giving a compliment as I ever do receiving one.

    We are all observers of human nature; the differences and the similarities that remind us of our links to one another. Thank you for taking an ordinary topic and making it magic, Linda. Simply brilliant, my kind friend.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    Linda, they don't make it through our generation. We hop on top before we know whether or not that's the right choice.....

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Amy, beautiful Amy! Even your comments read like poetry. :-) They always make me feel like I've done something special, even when I have only done the ordinary. I understand the slavery of fashion but I have long ago given it up. I happen to enjoy the bag-lady approach. It's much more comfortable and sometimes, more colorful. What a delightful story about our Hollywood gal and I completely agree that it is just as satisfying to give as it is to receive. You are a treasure.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Shauna, you are a a trip. I'm not sure if you meant your comment the way I interpret it but it sure brought a giggle to an otherwise mundane day. I'm sure it has something to do with those rose-colored glasses. Love ya my spirit sister.

  • Sally's Trove profile image

    Sherri 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

    This was a delight to read. I'm a people watcher, too, but I never stopped long enough to think about why I was watching what or whom or what impact the watching had on me. Now that I look back on it, what I took and take from watching is an emotional response. Some people are a delight to watch (children almost always), but some engender angst, like couples who demean each other in public. Much food for thought here, much reason to take closer looks. Thank you!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Sally's Trove, I am so happy that you enjoyed this one and that it inspired a desire to take a closer look. That's why we write, isn't it? Thank you for the wonderful comment and the visit.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    Yeah, Linda, you got my message right! It might be a tad naughty, but you got it my sister!

  • mary615 profile image

    Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

    I have been a "people watcher" all my life. I could sit in an airport all day and just watch the people. I wonder where they are going, what they do for a living, etc. This is really an in-depth Hub about people and how we differ.

    I love the quote by Emerson, too. He is one of my favorites.

    Voted UP, and will share.

  • GusTheRedneck profile image

    Gustave Kilthau 4 years ago from USA

    Howdy Linda (lrc785) -

    No use my telling you that this was a fun (and quite accurate) piece to read. There was one spot within it that became my favorite of your many apt comparisons - it was in the "Hair" section. You mentioned that sometimes a hair style can make someone appear to have a head of hair remindful of the rear end of a horse. This brought a smile over here, for I have often noticed that the top of the body is not unique in that way - all too often the bottom end is much like the rear end of a horse as well. :-)

    Good show here, Linda...

    Gus :-)))

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

    I agree with Emerson's quote and I like the moral of your story. I think what you wrote is absolutely true. This is very informative and interesting hub.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Mary615. Airports are a great place to people watch, especially the people who don't travel often and are completely out of their comfort zone. I appreciate your visit today and the vote up too.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hello Gus! It's been a while and it's good to see you again. As is your gift, you have left me giggling with a vision of the rear end of a horse. And yes, I most certainly agree. In fact, well, maybe I won't go there.

    Thanks for the visit my friend. I hope you are shaking things up all around you and keeping the fun going strong.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Pamela99. Thanks for stopping by for this one. I love Emerson too and he is without a doubt, my favorite writer and philosopher. I'm glad you enjoyed this one.

  • picklesandrufus profile image

    picklesandrufus 4 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

    Love your conclusion! You are very observant and I enjoyed reading about those observations in this hub. Nice piece.

  • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

    Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

    Voted up and interesting. A fascinating story of people. I agree we all are different each in his or her own individual way. I know that I love to study people while riding on public transportation. Now there are people who have such a look you would be afraid to approach them even to ask for directions, sad people, glad people and so on. Passing this on.

  • tillsontitan profile image

    Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

    So much to say here Linda. First, I loved this from start to finish. Your descriptions and perceptions of how different it can be when one person wears the same thing as another! You know, I think shoe polish and cleaning sneakers is a thing of the past which is amazing considering how much the darn things cost now!

    I did a hub about observing people in a doctor's office...and one at a flea market...so we must be kindred spirits. I love watching people. My hubby and I used to go to the local county fair and just sit and watch the people.

    Lastly, our light does shine from within. I am a firm believer. If we want to be happy we can...if we want to be kind and gentle....we will. Oh, I know I said lastly, but I do have to add, I arrange my salad plate just so too. Everything has to be in the proper order ;)

    Loved this and voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Mary, you have made my day brighter with your own bright light. Thanks so much and yes, I do believe we are kindred spirits. I will look for your hubs later today when I have the proper time to digest them. For now, I'm off to do a little work and I'm wearing my freshly washed sneakers today. lol Thanks for the visit Mary and the the votes too.

  • carol7777 profile image

    carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

    I absolutely love watching people and find them fascinating. I play poker and the different way people look, act and even stack their chips is amusing. thanks for this most interesting hub.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi picklesandrufus! Thank you. You mention how observant I am and you are right. It is a direct result of the animal tracking class I took many years ago. My instructor and his reference materials taught me to see things from various angles and through both soft and hard vision. When I take the time to use those skills, I always learn something. Thanks so much for the visit and I a glady you enjoyed this one.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Gypsy. Public transportation is a great way to observe people. If you practice enough, I think it makes it easier to determine who needs a little help, who makes you feel good, etc. Everyone has something to teach us if we just use our senses to receive the lessons.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Carol! Hi! Thank you for visiting and sharing your poker story. I bet that is a great way to observe different behaviors. Hope you're winning too. :-)

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

    This is great and shows you are a caring person. People that are all about self don't care about watching others. It really is very educational to watch people. Being shy made me that way as a child and then it just got interesting and the way to be. Loved your humor and additives. ^

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Jackie, people watching is educational isn't it? We could learn a lot from all aspects of life if we listened and watched more and talked less. Maybe you were more smart than shy as a child. :-) Thanks for the great comment and the visit too.

  • grandmapearl profile image

    Connie Smith 4 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

    I am with you, spike heels have long ago given way to comfy athletic shoes! My husband's cousin looks like a super model in stuff that would make me look like I'd fallen asleep in my clothes! I don't know, maybe my inner light is on low voltage or something. LOL

    Loved this, my friend. Voted Up and Interesting. And now when I am out and about, I'll be wondering if someone is watching?! GOOD STUFF

    Pearl

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    lol...Pearl, read it again. It's not the clothing that makes our light shine and there is nothing low voltage about your light. I tell my friends that I was built for comfort, not for speed. Heels fell by the wayside many years ago. In fact, I hate shoes and only wear them when I have to go out and then it's always a sandal or a flat. And...I really don't care who likes it. :-) It's the thing I love most about getting older.

    Thanks for the great comment my friend.

  • Lipnancy profile image

    Nancy Yager 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

    I just love your conclusion. It is definitely the light within that shines, not the clothes that you are wearing.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Lipnancy, thank you for the visit and I am glad you enjoyed my conclusion. Keep shining because clearly you understood. :-)

  • Eiddwen profile image

    Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

    A great read and thank you so very much for sharing .Have a great day.

    Eddy.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Eddy, thanks for stopping by. Hope your day is amazing too.

Click to Rate This Article