If you’ve read more than one paragraph I’ve ever written, you’ve picked up on the fact that I’m somewhat of a glass is half empty sort of guy. But allow me to depart from my usual vantage point to share with you about what a beautiful day I’ve had.
I need to set the scene a bit to help you appreciate the good events of today. Yesterday sucked. I heard from an unhappy customer who listed multiple things I had done wrong in my cleanup process. I had literally told her I would have to leave some of the cleanup work to her because the deck I’d stained would be wet. She ended her litany with, “I don’t know where you were in such a rush to get to!” Now I do get my feelings hurt easily, but she was being downright ridiculous and unreasonable…so it hurt all the more. Then I sat in a cigar shop and listened to two very outspoken men express their own litany of political passions (essentially opposite of my own, of course) for about two hours; really? All I wanted to do was enjoy a cigar. A few other things happened that are too personal to list here for fear of hurting people’s feelings who might actually read this post. I also broke an expensive piece of my work equipment AND a treasured ashtray that I made at a pottery painting place while on a date with my daughter. It was truly one of THOSE days.
But today made me feel like humanity is redeemable and meaningful connections, both close ones and passing ones, are possible.
I had dinner with a former student who, if I may say so, is like a little brother to me. I just love the kid (he’s 21, so, not a kid I guess). He is endlessly compassionate toward me; he almost never ceases to give me a gift of some sort when we’re together. Tonight, in honor of my recent birthday, he insisted on treating me to dinner (so I had two drinks and four entrees and seven desserts). When we parted we hugged and said, “I love ya buddy” to each other.
While we were at the movies, I had one of those passing encounters that make me feel like maybe, just maybe, we all COULD get along. At least under the right circumstances. I was waiting in line to pay the equivalent of a car payment for a drink and some Twizzlers and got to chatting with a couple behind me. We were just lamenting how expensive these snacks were while ironically waiting to pay for said snacks. We were talking about the fact that you sort of get psychologically tricked into thinking the prices are reasonable since you have no other options for food or drink. Then I mentioned Vegas and the psychological tricks they play on you so you’ll spend more money gambling. I asked if they’d ever been and they said they might go for their honeymoon. Then the lady, beaming, showed me her engagement ring and said they had just gotten engaged TODAY! Overcome with goodwill as it was my birthday and had been a good one, I blurted out, “Well then, I’m buying your snacks.” Don’t go thinking I’m too generous because my mother, who expresses love by handing out money to her children, had given me $100 earlier that day. Anyway, they were very touched and the lady wanted a picture with the three of us. (The line was long…so we had plenty of time for all of this to unfold). We took a picture together and she sent it to me; we got our snacks; we hugged and I congratulated them, and off we went to our movies. It was just a beautiful encounter.
I got home and checked my email and yet another beautiful act of love and grace was waiting for me. An old friend from high school (okay, if I’m honest we even “dated” for a little bit, but since we were too young to drive, I’m not sure we went on many dates. Truth be told, I treated her like none-too-well when I broke up with her, and I wouldn’t have held it against her to still think I’m a jerk. If she does, then what she did is even more remarkable…) We had been dialoging about me maybe speaking at her church sometime. She said she’d mention it to the pastors, and I expected a two or three line email that would probably amount to nothing. Well, she wrote something more like a research paper and cc’d me on it. She cited mental health statistics and elaborated on the lack of proper education about these topics in the church, and much more. I had to bookmark where I stopped reading so I can finish it tomorrow. No, not really, but it was such an “above and beyond” act of kindness that I was and still am overcome with a sense that there is goodness in the world and in people.
I have nothing more to say about this because I just want to let the stories speak for themselves. In this moment, I just want to breathe in the grace and beauty and dignity of being a part of humankind.
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