Many years ago, our family lived in Kuwait due to my husband’s job. The experience taught me a lot about different cultures and communication. What I learned was that you don’t always need words to communicate. And even without communication, you can understand the energy. Energy doesn’t need an explanation.
While driving down the dusty street from our flat in Jabriya, Kuwait, I spotted a Dry Cleaning sign. It was a small concrete shop with a front glass window. “I’ll go there tomorrow,” I thought to myself.
The following day, I ventured down there with a couple of my husband’s trousers and suit jackets.
Behind the large glass shop window was a reception counter. And behind that was a middle-aged Persian looking man with deep-set eyes. He stood there moving his arm back and forth, ironing clothes.
I entered the shop and he greeted me at the counter. I couldn’t speak Arabic. He couldn’t speak English. What to do?
I spoke in English…slowly….hoping he’d understand. And I used hand gestures. (If you really think about it, speaking English slowly doesn’t help if they don’t understand English. Why do I do this?)
Somehow with my pointing and showing him money, I managed to figure out how much it cost to have things cleaned. I also managed to figure out when I needed to pick up the cleaned clothes. Mission accomplished!
I became a regular customer at this dry cleaners, visiting at least twice a month. The man and I couldn’t communicate. But we had our routine. We exchanged smiles. And as I would leave, I’d say “shukran” which means thank you.
Over time, we became more friendly. During the hot summer months, the heat would often be over 100F. So, when he saw my car drive up next to the sidewalk, he’d signal me to wait in my car. He would bring out my clothes so I didn’t have to go out in the hot heat. He was a very kind, thoughtful man. When looking into his eyes, I always felt a tinge of sadness. I wondered why. I couldn’t ask. But in his presence, I always felt calm, relaxed, and safe.
Although we couldn’t exchange words, we could communicate with our actions. And I could feel his innate gentle energy.
Aftr four years, it was time for our family to leave the country. I had to say goodbye. And I wanted to give him a token of my thanks.
I drove down to the shop to tell him that I was leaving. Again, I said it in slow English. “I’m leaving. Going to America. Shukran and take care.” We said our goodbyes. I waved and he waved back.
As I drove home, I felt a big lump in my throat. Sitting behind the wheel, I felt the tears running down my face. Over the years we hardly said anything to each other. Yet I felt so sad that I was never going to see him again. I don’t know why we connected. I think back now, and it must have been the mutual comfort and understanding of being foreigners in the country.
I learned from him that you don’t need words to communicate. We can communicate through actions. And we can feel each other’s energy through these actions. Sometimes I wonder how he’s doing. And how our simple exchange left such a warm impression in my heart.