Walking out of the grocery store, I saw an older man with snow-white hair, and a large hump on his back. He was at the end of one of the aisles, hunched over, bagging groceries. Of course, I don’t know why he has that job. Maybe he desperately needs the money grocery bagging brings him. Perhaps he was lonely or bored and this is his solution to stay connected. In either case, my heart was glad for him because he seemed happy. He was actively engaged and making a difference just by showing up. I stood a little taller as I walked out the door.
Outside, there was a man, who appeared to be about my age, rolling an oxygen tank next to him. He took his plastic grocery bag and hooked it over the handle of his life-support machine, then hoisted up a big package of toilet tissue to carry with his other arm. As I passed next to him, I asked if I could help him get to his car. He turned and looked at me and said, “I’m fine, thank you ma’am, you’re wonderful.” I responded, “please take your time.” As I walked a few steps further, he said, “it’s part of my daily walk.” I smiled at him and walked a bit more slowly to my car.
As I drove home I passed a young man sitting outside a laundromat. I was stopped at a traffic light right next to where he was waiting. Although I have no idea what his back-story is either, he looked bored and kind of “lost”. It was a perfect June day—maybe he was simply daydreaming. I was aware of how quickly time passes and how fragile, and often fleeting, life is. I thought about the bumper sticker on the back of my car and wondered if anyone is ever impacted by reading, “creating a home, a life and a world you love”. I drove the rest of the way with more awareness.
By the time I got home, I had tears in my eyes. These three men, without even knowing it, gave me the opportunity to stop and get outside myself. They gave me the gift of looking at life from three different perspectives.
I learn lessons all the time.
Sometimes, they come wrapped in a beautiful box with a fancy bow.
Sometimes, they’re accompanied by a lot of “bells and whistles”.
Sometimes, those lessons are life altering.
Sometimes, they are tough to learn.
Sometimes, they break me to the core.
Usually, however, they’re taught when least expected—in those moments of being present in day-to-day living—on short trips where I keep my eyes, and heart, open to life.