I’ve been avoiding writing lately. Oh, I’ve got plenty of “material” roaming around in this ol’ noggin of mine, there’s never a lack of reflective or contemplative thoughts to share, it’s just that I haven’t felt especially inspired or able to really formulate any of it into words for using my “outside voice.” And I still don’t, but I wanted to share a little story with you about perspective. The perspective of gratitude.
Yeah, yeah, I know it’s a bit cliche’ to talk about gratitude while we’re having our Thanksgiving holiday here in the states, but so what? So what if it’s a particular holiday that springs up a certain way of thinking? And regardless of ones views or opinions about what Thanksgiving is really all about (where it originated or to whom it is that we are to express our thanks to etc.), isn’t the idea of giving thanks still of value? And isn’t it better to have a season or a holiday where our awareness of gratitude is a bit heightened, than to not have one at all? Obviously it goes without saying that we should live our entire lives (all year round) in a continual attitude of gratitude. But sometimes things are going on in our lives that get us caught up, and we lose that perspective of gratitude. Because after all… life can be really, really difficult at times can’t it?
Here I am in my own world, living each day, doing my thing, going about my business, dealing with my own set of various struggles and difficulties, and doing my best to live in such a way that brings love and light into the lives of others. But sometimes I get “caught up” in all the things I have to do, and sometimes I become resentful of all the things I have to do. I never used to get like this. Honestly, I lived in a little joy bubble, lalalalalala. But now I have pain. Pain has invaded my little joy bubble, and now, anything that I have to do that requires any considerable amount of walking or standing, brings excruciating pain to my knees. I have to do a lot of planning ahead and prioritizing, and I have to pace myself as to not to overdo it or I’ll be paying for it dearly for days afterward. But sometimes there’s simply a lot of shtuff that needs doing all at once, and because I have other people depending on me to do all that shtuff, I have no choice but to take care of it. This is always a very busy time of the year for me, we have family birthdays going on, not to mention the holidays and everything that comes along with them, in addition to the regular every day things pressing in as well.
This story begins at the grocery store…
First let me mention that I HATE the grocery store. Not all grocery stores, I don’t mind going to the smaller markets and the local co-op, but the big warehouse type of grocery stores… = hate. I always have, even before I had any knee pain. It may sound sort of strange, but sometimes I actually used to have to do a little bit of mental preparation before going in. I’d breathe deeply and determine within myself not to let the other shoppers’ vibes affect my mood. I’ve always been sensitive to peoples vibes, but shopper peoples’ vibes are the worst. Seriously, they can be so rude. Sometimes I’d play a little game and purposely go out of my way to be extra kind, especially to the really crabby people (a little kindness can go a long way), but then someone would ram into my heel or nearly run down my daughter with their cart, and then it was game over!
Well, I needed to go to the warehouse type of grocery store the other day to go shopping for our food for Thanksgiving dinner. My mom and my daughter came along and surprisingly, we had an enjoyable time of selecting our turkey and other fixings for our meal. It was early in the day so there weren’t many people there, no one ramming our heels or running us down with their carts. ;) We came across an elderly gentleman and I made a bit of small talk with him and teased around with him about us being in each others way in front of the lettuce. My mom and I were both in tears after leaving him because he made us think of my dad. The holidays are especially difficult when missing a loved one. :( We also “played” around a bit with an elderly woman who was riding in one of those scooters for the disabled. Those scooters are such a wonderful idea. Kudos to whoever thought up the idea of providing them for customers at those larger stores. In fact, this whole story may could have been avoided if I had used one of those scooters myself. I have used them a couple of times in the past when I’ve had a lot of shopping to do, but the stores normally only have a few of them available, and I always want to leave them for the people who are more in need than myself.
The problem with our little shopping trip arose when we went to pay for our groceries. The lines weren’t too long, because as I mentioned, there weren’t many shoppers, but lo and behold the line we got into was a nightmare. A nightmare for people who have pain when standing for long periods, anyway. There was only one woman in line ahead of us, and she didn’t have many items, so we thought it would be semi quick. We weren’t in a hurry, but like I said, it’s painful for me to stand in one place for very long, so in that respect we were in a “hurry.” Well, I don’t know what was going on, but this woman was taking for-fricking-ever. Seemed like it anyway. I had to leave my mom and daughter and squeeze out of line to go and find a place to sit down nearby because the pain became so unbearable. I don’t know how long I had been standing there prior to my going to sit down, but I sat on that bench for at least another 10 or 15 minutes before my mom and daughter came up. How one woman, with barely any items, can take over 20 minutes to check out her groceries was beyond me.
I was feeling pretty annoyed, but of course once I was sitting down I felt better because I was no longer in pain. And as I sat there I began contemplating about whether or not I am a patient person. I strive to be, and I think I generally am, but am I patient while I’m in pain? Nope, definitely not. Am I kind? Yes, definitely. But am I kind while I’m in pain? Well… I’m still able to be polite.
As I sat there contemplating whether or not I’m a patient and kind person, I was also thinking about how much it sucks to be in pain and how embarrassing it is to have to go and sit down because I can’t even stand in a line for 5 minutes. That train of thought led to thinking about all of the other woes in my life, and as I became aware of that, I stopped myself. I began a different inner dialog that went something like this… “Gosh, ya know, I’m thankful I even have the money to buy this Thanksgiving dinner” many people don’t. And then “I’m thankful I have my little family to share it with” many people don’t. And on it went, more thoughts poured in about how incredibly fortunate I am, and all the things I have to be grateful for. It completely shifted my perspective. Even to the point of feeling genuine compassion in place of annoyance toward that unbearably slow woman in line. God only knows what her situation is in life. Here I had my mom and daughter shopping with me, while this woman was alone. Maybe she is even all alone in this world.
As I sit writing this, smelling the delicious aroma of the food we bought that day wafting up to my room, I’m saying a quiet prayer for that woman, hoping that she isn’t all alone, that she has someone to share this day, and all of her days with. And I’m thinking about all of the other people in the world who may be alone, or hungry, or cold, with compassion and with profound gratitude that I am not.
Peace & Love…