I've known Mr. M. for a long time.
He has chronic pain from degenerative joint disease, as well as multiple other medical and psychiatric diagnoses.
Every time I see him, he appears miserable.
I always try, as I do with all folks with chronic pain, to have as much empathy as I can muster.
Recently, my wife, son, daughter and I went to see a movie. It was a comedy. We got to our seats during to the coming attractions so the theater was already dark.
After my eyes adjusted, I noticed that Mr. M. was sitting in the row directly in front of ours. I didn't say anything to him and it didn't appear that he noticed me (I often wear a baseball cap when not at work).
During the movie he was, at times, laughing loudly at the parts in which everyone else in the theater was laughing.
I found myself watching him more than the movie.
It was wonderful to see this fellow, that usually appears almost lifeless in my office, smiling and, at times, laughing hysterically. I had never seen him so animated.
It was great to see!
It was uplifting.
He actually seemed to be enjoying himself, and for at least this brief two hour span, life itself.
He left as soon as the movie ended. We waited until most of the credits were finished.
I've seen him since.
I haven't let him know I saw him outside of my office. It doesn't change the fact that he has chronic pain. It just sort of gives me feedback that he's doing a little better emotionally, and possibly physically, than I had thought.
I really wanted to tap him on the shoulder during the movie and say, "it's good to see you, thanks for making me feel better about how you are doing!"