In a pool of shade beneath a small tree, a youngish man was sitting cross-legged, his head in his hands, his long hair hanging down to hide his face. Occasionally he would shift a bit, putting a hand to his chin or pulling his hair from his neck, but his posture didn’t change: head down, it was the image of sorrow.
I stayed in touch with the meeting in progress, but kept an eye on the man down below. I wondered what could have happened to him. Had he been fired? Had his significant other dumped him? Had he gotten bad news about a parent’s health?
I wondered if he would still be there when my meeting was over. If so, should I go over and offer a word of encouragement, volunteer to be a listening ear?
It was hard to stay focused on the meeting, but then the man shifted positions and lay back against the tree — while holding his cell phone in front of his face.
As it turns out, he hadn’t been grieving at all, but watching a video or reading an article on his smart phone, previously positioned on his feet. When break time was over, he hopped up, grabbed his lunch box, and sauntered back to his building.
I was relieved to see the man needed no special comfort, but that led me to wonder how many people appear perfectly cool on the outside, but are grieving within.
Things aren’t always as they seem.