"Your gait looks super aesthetic."
How did he react?
He seemed a bit surprised and said, "Thank you! I am pleased to hear that."
How did I feel?
Before meeting Jakob I was on cloud nine. Coming from an interview at Radioeins that had been an amazing experience I drove down Yorckstraße. Uplifting, inspiring thoughts occupied my mind: I had been lucky to chat with the radio team for an hour and reflect on complimenting after the interview. Together we had pointed out several different layers there are to the act of complimenting, I'd gained and shared perspectives and food for thought. Eventually they had told me that reading my posts makes them happy, which had been the nicest thing to hear! A massive grin on my face I hummed along with a song stuck in my ear and saw a potential compliment candidate in every person I passed on my bike.
I chose Jakob because the beauty I saw in him was subtle yet present. While approaching him from behind I watched him walk down the street for a few seconds before I passed him. It took a moment, then I realized: He was today's candidate. I stopped, pulled over, walked back. And mirrored to him what I had just observed. It was his beautiful gait, very straightforward and clear, yet light and free. His steps looked easy, almost dance-like but he did not lose his way. A second ago I found the right tag in German: Beschwingt ("be-swinged", Buoyant, or winged, are the closest words).
When I talked to him Jakob seemed like I had just woken him up from a dream set in a far away place. He was surprised and remained a bit sleepy, in the sweetest way. I asked him if he was just coming back from partying and he said, no, but he'd just overslept a tattoo appointment. We chatted for a bit, and Jakob told me he was from the south of Germany and in town for an internship. He wants to become a photographer. I just checked out his website and I think he is super talented! See for yourself below.
Yeah! Here's one thing I love, love about the project: Almost every compliment is an opener. A door to more. I see a piece of beauty in someone, I walk up to them, I tell them about it. I communicate my appreciation and my interest in them. And then maybe, but actually almost always, they show more of their beauty, of who they are. In short: If I had not talked to Jakob about his gait I would not have gotten to take a look and enjoy his beautiful art. If I had not complimented Joachim on his calm I would never have found out about the incredibly strong man he is, supporting his handicapped daughter for more than twenty years. Even with the people I know: If I had not complimented David months ago I would not have brainstormed about all the wonderful things we have experienced together and what he means to me! This project is an outstanding teacher. Today's lesson:
There is a fabulous wealth of beauty, strength, wisdom, humor, inspiration, love-... hidden in everyone. Instead of daily life extras or even bugbears, strangers on the street are treasure chests. All it takes to see and learn from them is to go, appreciate and ask. If I do so chances are high I will enjoy and learn from the pieces of gold they carry inside, even from the ones I have not seen so far because they are hidden.
I have been certain that there are no bad people and that there is beauty and divinity in everyone for a while now. Each one of us carries a unique potential, precious experiences, perspectives and talents! But thinking that and experiencing it are two completely different things. The experience part is my favorite lesson ever. Thanks to every single candidate for teaching me! Thank you so much.
Here are some of Jakob's pictures. They can be found on his website: