Fabric of Humanity

I decided to make a black cape for my son for his Halloween costume, so I hit the fabric store. I thought it wouldn’t take long – getting one piece of fabric, easy. I arrived, selected my fabric, went to the cutting counter, and proceeded to pull the next number. I looked at it:  # 99. I had just heard the lady call # 78 … wow. I looked around and saw a lot of people – some of them with stacks of fabric.  Whew! I decided I’d wait 10-15 minutes, max.

As I stood in line, a lady with a kind-looking face started talking to me. She told me she didn’t mind waiting because it was such a great deal on the fabric. She said she buys a lot for her charity work, which is making blankets for children on the Indian Reservation. She continued telling me that she tries to pick out the darker colored fleece because a lot of the families don’t have access to washers and dryers, except once a month; and that she made them with double the fabric to make them thicker, and warmer. I told her how great it was she was doing that. At that point, another woman said how we take those things for granted, not realizing there are people who would love to spontaneously do a load of laundry. Then, she says “Well, I am grateful for my washer and dryer”.  Another woman chimed in, “I am grateful for waking up every morning”, another one says, “I am grateful for clean water”. A few others joined in expressing what they were grateful for. I felt so full at that moment, and even though I was standing around with perfect strangers I felt so unbelievably connected to everyone. And, no one was complaining about having to wait.

Then several people started talking about the purpose of the fabric they were buying. One lady was going to make a Robin costume for her son; another one was making pillows for her husband with cancer. Every story was different, but the main thread was making something for someone else. A thought kept running through my mind… I remembered reading an article, or maybe a study, a while back about how strangers and our relationships with them play a bigger role in our lives than we think. It stated something about how making connections with strangers weaves us together creating real value in the human exchange. I was literally experiencing that exact thing at that very moment! The stories every person told were weaving strangers together, becoming the fabric of humanity. The humanity that is so essential in living, and coexisting with one another.

I looked at my watch, 30 minutes had passed. It seemed as if time had stopped during that pure, uncontrived exchange between perfect strangers. I walked out of the store with the biggest smile. Who would have thought waiting in line could be turned into a life lesson. Those strangers, who came in and out of my life, touched me on a very deep level.  Even though we may never see each other again we shared an experience – weaving, adding to the complexity and richness of the human experience.

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