One of the benefits of spending a good deal of my lifetime alone has been I’ve become hyper aware of the world around me.
I notice things: the tiniest details, subtle actions of others stand out, volumes are spoken via the unspoken word. My daily life has given me pause to recognize a continuity in the every day actions most would consider mundane; to intentionally see connections most would casually overlook.
It’s not always easy, and often painful to see a reality that might be better left ignored, but when I zero in on the positives…
Where so many focus on the negative (news reports, gossip) I am delighted at what I see. I try to look for the sweet spots–because, they’re there you know?
Underneath it all, yes, but more often? Right in front of our eyes.
Had to get my car serviced this morning. Only takes about 90 minutes, but the thought of sitting in the lounge area at the Acura dealership and watching a mind numbing hour of America’s brain trust hosting “The View” (while munching on pastries courtesy of Acura) felt unbearable to me.
There had to be a better way to spend the next ninety minutes?
Miguel offered a shuttle to take me home, but then realized the shuttle was already out. A helpful young employee named Jose stepped up and offered me a ride up the street to the mall, “If you want?”
My love list grows every day.
It was a hop, skip and a jump to Nordy’s yet still, I learned a lot about Jose. My new friend had been scheduled for the late shift today (didn’t have to start till 10am). He felt better, “Got some rest.” Studying Criminal Justice takes up his evenings. Wants to be a cop but “the competition in Orange County…”
Everyone has a story. Each is important too.
His was sweet and humble; somebody raised him right. He asked about me and I told him I was at the other end of my career. He nodded and then shot me a look of sincere admiration; this young man wanted to be, some day, where I was today. I could see he was aiming for it, that his goals were well thought out and in place and I encouraged him to stick with it.
“It feels like it’s gonna take forever, but time passes anyway. Might as well make it count.” He seemed to appreciate my advice.
Walked around Nordy’s and saw pair of heels I liked. $119! Ah well, when would I wear them anyway? My tummy grumbled and I wandered up to the food court. I stood there dumbfounded. When had they remodeled the food court? Where did Mickey D’s go? There’s a Thai restaurant now? Looks tasty, but I don’t know how to order there…how long has it been since I’ve been up here anyway?
It looked nice. Spacious. Pleasant to the eye.
Took out about half of the table seating and put in some comfy couches and cushiony chairs. There’s a Starbucks now too, and a Blaze Pizza (wish my friends had gotten their Pieology Pizza in there instead–that would have cool!). Looking around, I noticed there is less attraction for idle teens and more for grown ups seeking a moment of peace; the obnoxious monitors with loud offensive music videos were still hanging above our heads, only now they were airing the news (just as offensive, but somehow more tolerable).
Got something to eat from Paradise Bakery (glad it was still there, but they stopped serving those long crouton things). Dang it! Sometimes change is not good. But the server gave me the bad news with a smile.
Made all the difference.
Went to sit down and eat and my eyes were drawn to a mom as she handed her toddler a green smoothie, and then we all watched as it promptly slid through his hands.
A young attractive woman immediately jumped up from her cushy chair and ran to help.
She asked the barista for a wet towel and had half the spill wiped up before the mom even knew what had happened. Gratitude and emotion spread across the face of a mother who had had a rough morning.
I smiled at the exchange.
Heard a loud groaning to my right and saw about half a dozen handicapped young adults pass me by, being escorted by three women, to a cluster of tables. Their care takers were patient and careful with the wheelchairs. I noticed one walking slowly; a young man, about twenty, was holding onto her shoulders as she guided him. He was blind. She was his eyes for the day.
The sight before me filled my own eyes with tears.
Still hungry, I ate one of the six chocolate chip oatmeal chippers I bought my son (shhh…don’t tell him). Just as I was savoring the melty chocolatey goodness, a teenage girl (working the phone case kiosk) left her post, walking past me, and into the bathroom. No one was manning the goods, but I noticed an obvious calmness to her demeanor; the “goods” would be fine. She knew it. I knew it too.
At first I was alarmed. But soon, I found her confidence rather encouraging. She’s got this.
My hour was up. I was bummed. Don’t get to the mall very often. Thought to myself, maybe that’s why I enjoyed my time here so much? We appreciate things more when we experience them less.
Wish my kids had been with me though. Decolores is having a sale: Everything in the store $12.98! Niko would have liked the shirts I saw at Macys too. Next time…
This morning was my time with other people’s young adults.
One hour to notice how the millennials are making a way in a world that is not always that encouraging, how many are making an impact simply by giving a lift to a bored mom at the dealership or a helping hand to an overwhelmed mom at the mall, how they are selflessly showing compassion to others their own age, who cannot care for themselves. This new generation of adults are getting up off the couch (or cushy chair) and conspiring to make a difference– in little ways, and in big ways too. They get that all ways count.
Often my sensitivity to the world around me can leave me feeling sad and hopeless, but more often, I am left feeling blessed and hopeful.
I’d have to say, my morning at the mall? Time well spent.