I was walking down the street in a nearby town one afternoon, when I noticed a man in his twenties standing on the curb looking up into the sky. As I approached, I could see he was trying to get a photograph of something.
He looked away from his phone to me and said, “You’ve got to see this!” and called me over to the edge of the curb. I know that feeling, when you just have to share something with another human being—it’s just too good not to, even though you might look a little foolish.
He positioned me in just the right spot and said, “Okay, now look up into the sky.” I did. I looked. I scanned the expanse of the blue sky. Nothing. I shook my head, “I don’t see anything.”
“It’s crazy hard to see, but look again and look even higher.” I tried again. I looked in all directions. I squinted. I stared. Nothing. Now I was getting a bit embarrassed as if I were failing some very important test.
He was not giving up. Evidently, there was something up there worth seeing. He said, “Try again. Trust me. You really have to look even higher.”
I tipped my head back and tried a third time. Okay, higher, higher, higher, I thought. I looked so high it seemed I was looking out onto the edge of space—and that’s when I saw them. I shouted, “Unbelievable!” and put my hands on my head. “I know, isn’t it amazing?” he said with his hands on his head, mirroring me.
Up in that sky, so high it seemed impossible for them to even be alive, were thousands of glittering birds in V formations. They filled the entire sky in all directions, so high there was only silence. We stood there, side by side on the curb for the longest time, watching as wave after wave of these shining birds passed overhead. The boundary between strangers dissolved; we became just two human beings experiencing nature’s magnificence.
It can happen anywhere, anytime—when the boundaries that make us feel separate and different from each other suddenly fall away. I look for these moments and welcome them because I feel more alive when they’re happening.
I’m not sure who I was more grateful to. This sweet guy who wanted to share a moment with a stranger. Or the birds, who turned a moment with a stranger into a moment of heart connection with another human being.