Last week I met someone in a coffee shop (shocking). He actually walked right up to me and sat down at my table (I was waiting for someone and had a small, two-person spot). The interesting thing was that this guy was blind. I saw him walk in, with the authority of a sighted person, moving his cane back and forth. I was fascinated. So much so that I missed him coming to my table until it was too late. He sat down, said hello and asked how I was.
S***! Did I know this guy? I wasn’t sure what to do and I looked around the coffee shop to see if anyone was watching us. I told him I was waiting for someone but was happy to chat until they came.
We quickly got into a personal conversation (I know – again, shocking). We talked about how he loves the fact that he can hear things that we sighted people miss. He asked how often I close my eyes. My response: in bed, at yoga and when I kiss someone. He laughed and said, “Next time you close your eyes pay attention to the beauty of the darkness. I see all that you see and more because I pay attention.” Powerful message.
Just then a woman walked in and he said, without looking away from me, “My ride is here. But, I want to tell you this: I think you have integrity.” I thanked him and suggested that I was a work in progress. He said, “We all are.” And that was it. He left.
I have a million things I’m processing about this meeting. Of course, I love the notion of closing my eyes and seeing beauty. Yet, it was “integrity” that was intriguing. It’s not a word I use to describe anyone (including me!).
So, I looked it up. Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. Building a reputation of integrity takes years, but only a second to lose. Yet, we rarely talk about integrity.
Integrity is walking the talk (more powerful than walking the walk). In other words, every time we speak, we create a road or a life path. The quality of that road, and how far it goes, and where it goes, will be directly related to the integrity of our word.
When we’re “in integrity,” we speak from a place of wholeness. Our words match our actions. Dr. Seuss put it best when he wrote, “We say what we mean and we mean what we say.” When we say things we don’t really mean, we move “out of integrity.”
This quick conversation, was a good reminder to think about how I can live a life of integrity. To watch my words. To try to walk my talk.
Hmm, maybe that’s why he walked with such authority – even without his sight – he had integrity. Food for thought on a cold winter (football) night.