Pay attention

As some of you may have read, Israel experienced a terror attack last week. A young man boarded a busy bus during rush hour traffic on a typical weekday, filled with commuters and kids – people going about their daily business. However, this man had different daily business to take care of. He carried a knife with him and, deciding upon the “right” moment, he started attacking anyone and everyone near him. The aftermath left 16 people injured, some of them severely, himself included.

Needless to say, the Israeli population has been very alert since then. People are aware of everything. They listen and they pay close attention (even more so than their usual eavesdropping).

Earlier in the week, I was on the bus on my way to work. It was a typical bus ride on a typical weekday. The bus was full of people commuting to work, kids making their way to school – people going about their daily business.

So on my typical bus ride to work, when a woman made a sudden gasping noise, the whole bus turned silent and looked to see what was going on. Within seconds it became clear that she was not in danger but was, in fact, laughing uncontrollably. The tension relaxed, the girl continued trembling with laughter and us every-day-bus-goers exchanged smiles with one another. It was a truly amazing moment where we all took step back, loosened up and laughed with total strangers. What would have been a too-long bus ride turned into an amazing lesson: Smiling > Panicking. Joy > Fear.

You can’t control what happens around you. Sometimes you are unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and there’s nothing you can do about that. But sometimes, you see something that changes your perspective. I am still horrified to know that a man woke up one day planning to take as many lives as possible, but I also know that when you see something funny, you have to give yourself the chance to laugh. A knife can turn a bus full of people into panicked and traumatized victims, but a simple giggle fit can transform them into lighthearted and cheerful people.

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