I raced to the post office late on a Saturday afternoon, hoping to get there before closing time. When I walked through the door, I discovered a line of five people all waiting for one clerk. Aargh! I really wanted to get my package in the mail that day.
My face must have shown my frustration because one of the women waiting in the lobby turned to me and said, “You go ahead of me. Really, it is fine.”
I smiled, took a breath, and hit a mental reset button. Getting this package mailed certainly doesn’t matter so much that it justifies my ignoring the people around me and acting rudely.
“That is so nice of you! Are you sure?”
“Yes. I’m actually enjoying the wait.”
“Thank you!” I smiled and continued to stand near her. We made eye contact a few times and exchanged a few more smiles. And then she took a step toward me.
“I’ve been taking care of my parents 24/7 for over a year. My dad passed away recently, and then my mom had a stroke. She seems, finally, to be getting better. Today is the first time I have left her alone. I’m enjoying the peace of standing here waiting. I never thought I would say that. And I can’t believe I’m telling you all of this.”
“You have had quite a journey. I helped take care of my mom before she died. I know how hard and also how wonderful it is.”
Before either of us had time to elaborate, the clerk interrupted our conversation to ask me to step to the counter to mail my package. I reluctantly stepped away from that moment of shared story-telling.
I never expected to receive an invitation into a stranger’s world while standing in the line at the post office. But I did. And she did. For those few brief moments, we looked each other in the eyes, listened, nodded our heads, and gave witness to each other’s lives. What a gift!
We all have a story, don’t we? And we all become more whole by telling it. Oh, may I remember this the next time I feel intent on completing a task and someone shows up at my door, or the person behind me in the grocery store line smiles as I’m hunting for my coupons, or . . .
Cheering you on in this journey to live connected!
P.S. I love this video from the Cleveland Clinic that so vividly reminds me that everyone has a story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDDWvj_q-o8&feature=youtu.be
P.P.S Just can’t resist passing on a recipe. Thought you might enjoy this recipe for Overnight Steel-Cut Oats: Overnight Steel-Cut Oatmeal