Monday, February 7, 2011

Behind the Façade

Photo: Miriam Woelke


I cannot stand self – centred people who only see themselves and nothing else. As soon as they start communicating with their environment, they only concentrate on one single subject: Themselves. In case the environment is not willing to follow, the self – loving person walks away because he is not interested in any kind of conversation.

Watching my environment and other people’s behaviour has always been one of my favourite interests. Not because of any negative intention but due to my interest in society. What kind of problems and challenges do other people face and how do they deal with them ? There are times when I am unable finding solutions for my own issues. This is when I start looking around what other people do. Once you start observing your environment and other people, you suddenly start noticing things which would never occur to you if you were in a hurry or only think about yourself.
Place yourself on a bench and start looking at people’s faces. This alone may tell you a lot about a person. Is he angry, excited, happy, sad or worried ? Many times a person seems to be totally happy but when you observe him very carefully from a distance you may notice the opposite. In our times, people love putting on a mask but I like looking behind the façade in order to find something for myself.

You will never know what is really going on behind the façade and there are plenty of times when you simply start imagining. Why is this woman staring into her glass filled with red wine ? Why is the young man getting on a bus smiling but, at the same time, moving his mouth in a nervous manner ? Maybe in order to fight against his need to break out in tears?

Mainly out of shame, people tend putting on the “I am great” mask. Nevertheless, I have had the opposite experience where worried people started deep conversations with a stranger and not necessarily with a close friend. This morning, for instance, I had a cup of coffee at a public place and, unintentionally (believe it or not) overheard such a conversation. A middle – aged man told another person that his rent is due today but he is unable to pay. Only a month ago, he had found another job and his boss would only pay him in another two days or so. “Then you sit alone at home after work and start thinking whether the landlord shows up demanding the rent or if he is going to start yelling at you on the phone. The worst is when you are alone and cannot share you fears and feelings with another person”.

The man he was talking to was not a close friend but rather an acquaintance. Instead of finding a few encouraging words or suggesting a few helpful solutions (talking to the landlord and explaining the situation, borrowing money from a bank or friend) there was no answer. Hardly a word but the thoughts of the people listening were extremely clear at that moment: I am glad not to be in his situation !

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