You probably recognize this photo. It was taken by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt right after Japan surrendered in World War 2. Alfred recalls:
“I was walking through the crowds on V-J Day, looking for pictures. I noticed a sailor coming my way. He was grabbing every female he could find and kissing them all — young girls and old ladies alike. Then I noticed the nurse, standing in that enormous crowd. I focused on her, and just as I’d hoped, the sailor came along, grabbed the nurse, and bent down to kiss her.”
Did the nurse mind? No, she didn’t!
“This guy grabbed me and we kissed,” Edith Shain told the journalists in 2008. “And then I turned one way and he turned the other. There was no way to know who he was, but I didn’t mind because he was someone who had fought for me.”
At certain moments in our lives, the distance between us and other people shrinks. We suddenly remember we are together. We suddenly realize it’s not “me”, it’s “us”.
We become so close to others – no so much physically, but more in our hearts. We feel like jumping and running up the street, dancing and singing, kissing and hugging strangers.
The masks fall down and we see ourselves – and others – for what we are: loving, happy human beings without fear or judgement.
Sometimes we forget. In fact, we forget all too often. We build spaces between ourselves and others. We reinforce barriers. We put off the fire within us, and eventually it goes out.
But one’s true self is never lost. It is this subtle something that makes us human. It needs no pretty words. It can’t be faked. It is not dependent on one’s status, title or position.
It’s in each and every of us.
This is something that makes a man run under the bullets and give his life for his family without thinking twice.
It is something that makes a mother shield her children with her body from any evil that may come to them.
It is something that just happens to us when we suddenly realize we need that other person. We need that person alive and breathing at any cost.
We take just one step. One step that separates light from darkness, life from death, and things just turn around. For us and for the entire world.
Because the whole world stares at us in that moment with invisible eyes. There is nothing else in it at that moment. There is only us and our quest.
The world has many eyes, but they’re all one. They cry together, they smile together and feel pain together.
And there are no walls, no masks, no made-up names or titles, no spaces between us – we’re being our true selves.
And we do “strange” things. They look “strange” when we put back our masks, re-erect our walls, and we wonder:
“how could have we gone so far? how could have we come so close to one another?”…
But deep inside we hope this will happen again. For, in truth, we’re very close. At any time and under any circumstances.
But we’re not always being ourselves…