I believe in the power of the knowing nod. It can come at the end of a toughly fought but loosing game. It can come when the speech of a life time was made. It can come right before the big exam. Or it can come when needed most, as it did with me.
The knowing nod is rather simple actually. It can be pointless and not do anything really or it can save you for the moment. The nod consists of eye contact and a slight nod of the head. What really sets the knowing nod apart from the rest of the run-of-the-mill nods is in the eye contact. What lye’s within the eye contact is what matters, in the eyes are understanding, sympathy, love, and so many more emotions that can not be put onto paper. This nod lets you know that someone else is there with you, lets you know that someone else feels your pain, or joy, or fright.
An easy example that happens to every athlete on the planet is the one after a huge victory. It is the moment when, through all the jumping and celebrating, you catch eye contact with the person who you go up against every day in practice. The simple nod tells those two that they are on the same page, they feel the same joy, and they each know the blood, sweat and tears that went into that victory. All the high-fives and slaps on the behind does not compare to the knowing nod.
The example above is a rather simple, trivial nod. There are nods that mean much, much more. A little over a year ago my younger brother, Nate, died in a tragic car accident. Throughout the wake I was receiving hundreds upon hundreds of tear drenched hugs and words of sympathy. Each time another person came up to hug me, the more blurred their faces became in my memory. Don’t get me wrong those people who were there for me are some of the closest people in my life, but the one man who made me feel as though I did have the strength to get through the whole ordeal was a man I had never seen before. Maybe he was one of Nate’s friends or maybe he was just a person who was passing through the church at the time. But I will never forget his face.
It was during my umpteenth hug that I caught his eye over the corner of my hugger’s shoulder. Just as I was about to break down and completely give in to the pain I saw him. He was standing there with his hands in his pockets and he simply looked into my eyes and nodded. In his eyes I could see compassion, regret, fear, pain, love, and every other emotion I was feeling at the time. His nod saved me. I don’t remember much about the wake, but I do remember the nameless man who simply nodded and said more words of comfort to me without making a sound.
I believe in the power of the knowing nod. Even though it is a simple a thing and not really noticeable, but I believe that the knowing nod has the power to shift lives, or at least moments. The power of the knowing nod is something with profound effects.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.