Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Everyday Lessons from the Universe

For those of you who were in doubt, I have returned to the somewhat "saner" side of my brain for a moment or two. Please enjoy these random thoughts.

There is something to be said of patience. It is a somewhat elusive virtue that quite a few find themselves struggling to embody. We all want the next moment, to hurry through the present because the future holds something better.

Last evening I had the joy of waiting in a line, not once mind you, but twice, at my local Wal-Mart Supercenter. This lovely situation came about because I was in a hurry to get home from work for the day. I didn't want to stop to purchase a money order while driving back to my local distribution center, where I had to finalize my day's paperwork and transmit my day's sales activity to corporate. I was impatient to get a long Monday out of the way and get started on my homework for the evening.

For some reason I had forgotten to get a few essentials, such as toothpaste, on my routine bi-weekly shopping trip. Why I figured I could pop into a Wal-Mart Supercenter on a Monday evening at 6 pm, pick up the few items I missed and purchase my money order in a flash, I'll never know. As a former "associate" of this lovely retail establishment, who used to help manage the front end and witnessed the second shift crowds, I should have known better. Amazing what the 30 something version does not recall from her late teens/early 20's.

So, there I was, barely able to keep my eyes open after my usual 12+ hour workday, any traces of make-up long since faded from my face, and feet aching from having to stand yet again. This was my second time in line, as I had made the mistake of thinking the customer service desk, instead of the money center, could actually print that darn piece of paper that I had to obtain that day, according to corporate policy. The law of attraction was sure in play as my initial impatience magnified itself in this new situation. There must have been at least ten people in line ahead of me and there was only one employee behind the counter. I realized that my irritation and impatience were in danger of crossing over into an exhausted meltdown.

I looked around at those in front of me, while seeming to impassively listen to the young lady behind me complain about her boyfriend and the fact that she had no food in the apartment she had just moved into. Funny how being an anonymous observer allows you the chance to learn a thing or two about humanity, remind you of your not so distant past or give you the inspiration for your next story.

I began to focus on the employee behind the counter, as I reminded myself that I couldn't change the situation. Continuing to feel frustrated wasn't going to do me any favors, so it was best to let go and experience the present moment for what it was. The employee was a younger female, most likely an undergrad student at one of the local colleges here in town. I could see that she was somewhat overwhelmed underneath her determined and focused demeanor. After all, she had to take care of an ever growing line of impatient customers who either wanted money, had to send money or turn money into another form of payment. She probably had a long day like myself, filled with multiple classes and a job that paid just enough to allow her to pay a few bills and survive off the cheapest food money can buy. She probably had a pile of homework waiting for her at home and she didn't know how or when it would get done.

It wasn't too long ago that I was that girl, juggling two part time jobs, a full undergrad classload and the beginnings of adult responsibility. It was a time in my life that I was overwhelmed, overextended, yet still hopeful that something bigger than life existed out there. It was a time that I don't miss much, but that I wished I had been more patient with and not in such a hurry to get over. It was a period in my life that I should have taken more time to be a child, "smell the roses" and appreciate for what it was.

By the time I reached the front counter, the impatience that I had felt had dissipated. The situation had forced me to "slow down", look around, use sensitivity to transcend myself back in time for a reminder of what's really important, and to extend kindness, appreciation and understanding towards someone trying to do a demanding, yet undervalued job.

Impatience robs you from seeing the gifts of everyday life and the opportunities to make small differences in the lives of others. It's a stressful and insensitive road that doesn't get you where you want to go any faster than its relaxed and carefree alternative. It stops you from realizing that you should savor where you are along existence's path; it's the only time you'll get to discover and explore its worth.

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