Sunday, November 10, 2013


For as long as I can remember I have found a certain fascination with the pastime of people watching.

Those rare days when I accompany my wife on a trip to the mall I find myself observing others rather than examining merchandise myself. There are even times when I just sit on a bench and watch humanity wander by.

When out for a drive I much prefer traveling on surface roads rather than freeways. Sometimes I even choose streets where traffic is heavy so that I can witness more interactions between earth’s inhabitants.

In places where great throngs gather I enjoy just hanging around, having no need to actually exchange niceties with anyone, but just enjoying the unique chance to view so many others interacting.

Prior to going through my doctorate program I always thought myself a little strange because I had this preoccupation with the observance of people and their interactions. However, this anxiety was alleviated when I learned that the majority of those I was constantly observing also enjoy watching others.

Even those with diminished curiosity about their neighbors must have observed through their casual glimpses the tremendous variations in people and their reactions to life’s situations.

Because I have discovered that so much of life’s joy and beauty are dependent upon the endless variety which surrounds us, I long ago lost the motivation to try to tell others what paths of life might be best for them to travel, or to persuade them that their likes and dislikes ought to correspond more closely with mine.

However, I have not been able to overcome the part of my nature from which emanates despair when I witness people who are burdened with an uncontrollable amount of negativism and depression, who always find their days partially cloudy rather than mostly sunny, their glasses half empty rather than half full.

Conversely, I am involuntarily cheered as I witness the zestfulness of the lives of those positive Pollyannas who see a silver lining surrounding the darkest of storm clouds and enjoy every nectar filled glass to the last drop
It boggles my mind to see that in spite of the fact that we all know that happiness and joy are superior to life’s alternatives, many continue to take their daily walk wallowing in the bog of discouragement and disappointment.

All obsessed people watchers or dedicated spectators of the actuators of life’s principles soon become aware that one’s economical, educational, vocational and social caste contributes little to the level that will be reached on life’s happiness barometer. We find Tiny Tims living in poverty, Scrooges struggling with continually being out of sorts while surrounded by trappings of their economic successes. We find Gunga Dins contentedly enjoying their menial position in life, while CEO’s continually complain about their weighty lot in life.

No matter what direction we turn during our daily journeys, we observe our fellow beings reacting and interacting to the same stimuli in many divergent ways. We can read words of one scholar who pins these differences to our DNA and another to environment and an endless combination of these influences and others, but ultimately we are left with the realization that the final determination of the attitudes which lead to our misery or happiness lies within the realm of our individual agency. We have the majestic power to reign over our personal radiance (Since I am well aware of the chemical imbalances which plague some peoples lives, this Thought deals only with those who are not challenged with these afflictions).

Sooner or later each of us must come to the realization that life is not lived to its fullest by the expectations of finding a city called Camelot or being born with a silver spoon in our mouths. Happiness will come when we act upon the understanding that the true joy of life is not found in how it might have begun, where we might be headed or where we might reside, but true joy comes when we decide to enjoy the current events of the trip.

Whenever anyone would tell my mother to ‘have a good day,’ she would remark enthusiastically that we should say ‘make it a good day.’ The more I have the privilege of continuing my log of people watched, the more I become convinced that those who stay in the moment of life they are passing through most consistently are those who emit the more powerful vibes of joyfulness.

The Psalmist said, “This is the day the Lord hath made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” I pray we will work to make the results of our daily decisions lead us to fewer hours of pacing the floor, moments of wrinkled brows, swallowing bitter pills and guide us toward climbing more mountains, eating more ice cream, walking barefoot through grassy meadow, watching sunsets, laughing more and having eyes brim with tears of joy.

We have the power within to make our life what we choose it to be.

The next time you are out and about, look around and I am sure you will see someone looking at you.
I wonder what they will be seeing and thinking?


  1. Wow! I absolutely love these thoughts! Bill used to call me Pollyanna (which I am definitely not!). But life is too precious and short to allow negativism any room at all!
    Thank you! Thank you! And make it a good day!:)

    Kathie Brookes

  2. Amen. life and it's pleasures forecasted in reality. Enjoy the many thoughts delivered the night before Sunday. Thank you for your thoughts for this day.

    Heidi Schwarz Skiles : D

  3. Buenas noches Presidente William L. and Kathleen W. Riley.

    Gracias por esos lindos mensajes me llegan al corazón, son muy alentadores.

    Espero se encuentren bien disfrutando de buena salud.

    Helena Aguirre

  4. Gracias y feliz noche


  5. Gracias por los hermosos y edificantes pensamientos semanales.Abrazos y saludos a la Hermana Kathleen.
    Saludos de Chela,quien ha superado una semana de Vertigos por medio de la acupuntura.

    Los amamos,

    Armando & Graciela Gomez

  6. Bill and Kathy,

    I enjoy all of your thoughts and I particularly liked this one. Thank you for all you do and for your wisdom.


    Wayne. Abbott

    ps. I am sure Vickie would concur but she is with her sister for a few days.

  7. Observando la vida y nuestro derredor, nos permite elevarnos aún sobre nosotros mismos y poder alcanzar perspectivas y sentidos reales de qué cosas deben ser importantes en la vida. Soy un observador nato, y seimpre atento a todo lo que sucede... eso me hace comprender mejor y me permitió encontrar... amigos, algún amor tal vez, pero sobre todo... buenas cosas para mi alma.

    Amor especialmente a Ustedes y especialmente... mi amor

    Julio C. Medina

  8. Dear Brother Riley:

    Well said and always enjoy your input. On my way to interview with Delta at Atlanta Georgia.


  9. Thank you! I love you and keep you in my heart! Thank you for keeping our family so close and for all of your love and example!

    Brooke Riley

  10. Your thoughts on people watching gave me pause for reflection If it had not been for the church, and my family, it would have been very ignore most of the people around me. When I go shopping it is to get something; spend a little time to see what is new, and leave. People mostly get in the way. You, on the other hand, have been difficult to ignore.

    Paul Maddox