We had some work done at our house recently. Let’s just say that the retaining wall was not living up to its name. The stonemason who came to replace it is a lovely man. I liked him immediately. An artist at heart, he walked through the project demonstrating clear knowledge about drainage and such, but truly looking for the lines of beauty he could create with earth and stone. The results are stunning, and I don’t usually say that about rocks!
The man is an artist. The muse has him. It speaks to him and tells him where to place the stones, which ones to use. You can see it in his work. They belong where he’s placed them. “I don’t usually talk with people about these things”, he said with a sheepish grin. “It’s OK”, I answered. “This happens to me a lot.”
After 3 days of work, he came back for a final check of the site and to collect his payment. We stood in the driveway and talked for quite some time. Then he said something that I’m still thinking about weeks later: he thanked me for being so friendly to work with. “You treated me like I was actually a friend. I appreciate that.”
I did not think much of it at the time other than registering pleasure that someone whose company I had enjoyed also enjoyed mine. But thinking about it since has made me reflect on how surprising this was to him. My friendliness was so out of the ordinary that he took the risk of sharing it with me. It makes me wonder how many jobs he has where people treat him like, well, the hired help.
This is how I try to be in the world. The grocery clerk, the babysitter, the person keeping yard in yard and driveway and driveway are as much my friends and colleagues as fellow kindergarten parents or office professionals or other yoga instructors and healers. Isn’t that the point? We share a common humanity. We are all travelers on this big mound of dirt and stone.