The human mind is very adept at labeling. Left to its own devices, it will label situations, things, places, and people. It’s a pretty handy app. Except when it comes to people. Over time those labels tend to solidify. They become all we can see. They become what we experience. The true depth of a person, the breathtaking miracle of their very existence, is replaced with a word. A sound. An assemblage of vowels and consonants. Ink or digital letters on paper or screen. Which is why I sometimes try to look at people and see them, witness them if you will, without immediately attaching a mental label. This is especially fun to do in a crowded public place. After a few minutes of practicing nonjudgemental looking, I find my heart filling with affection for total strangers. It’s an extraordinary experience. I encourage you to try it sometime. Be warned though, when you feel affection, you can’t stop smiling. This may cause total strangers to react fearfully, or, in New York City, say, “What the hell are you lookin’ at, ya friggin’ freak?!” “Friggin’ freak” being your new label.

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