I had an open morning and decided it was a good day to go browse and see what all the hype is about.
It felt so good to be out in the world. It was chilly but the sun was shining, which always puts me in a great mood. Leaving our city limits is a fairly rare experience for me, so it's both a cheap thrill and a possible panic attack.
I pulled into the lot and tried my best to guess which spot would be decent. Are all Costco parking lots as zig-zaggy and maze-like as ours? I noticed the driver of the car next to me was sitting in her car scratching off some sort of lottery ticket. Then I noticed that other cars in the lot still housed their drivers. A quick search on my phone revealed that Costco opens at 10:00 and I had arrived at 9:56.
Then one elderly man got out of his car and walked up to the big metal garage door of an entrance. He planted his feet in a stance that let everyone know he was the first to go in when that door opened. Next pandemonium broke out. If he's lining up at the door, each of the other shoppers was most certainly lining up at the door. Each driver quickly exited his or her vehicle, carrying boxes and shopping bags. I was supposed to bring my own boxes and bags?!
They gathered in front of that big silver door. They didn't form a line. They were more like a mob of twitchy, anxious people, shifting their weight from hip to hip and silently shuffling an inch or two in front of the next person. I couldn't help it. I laughed out loud in my car. And then I pulled out my book and read a chapter while the Black-Friday-on-a-random-Wednesday crowd fought for space and preference.
Because I don't particularly like crowds of people. In fact, I struggle with people in general. I'm an odd creature when it comes to people. I love individual people. And I mean I love them. Fiercely. Eternally. But people as a general population...they're not my thing.
There is no place this is more apparent than when I am driving. I can spend my whole morning smiling at fellow shoppers and chatting with clerks and shining my light for all to see. Then I get behind the wheel to head home, and suddenly I can't stand anyone. Every car I follow decides to go well under the speed limit. Each driver wanting to turn onto my road decides he is the lucky one and only person who is not required to stop at the stop sign between him and me. I grip my steering wheel and clench my jaw and sing along with my Christian radio through gritted teeth.
I was recently stuck behind a car driven by a woman who was going 7 miles under the speed limit. I don't do under-the-speed-limit very well. And SEVEN miles under?? That's a bit much. But her speed was not her greatest offense. The bigger issue was that she had MULTIPLE CATS WALKING AROUND HER CAR. They were stretching in the back window and scratching at the ceiling between the front seats. And she was PETTING THEM. The crazy cat lady on wheels was paying more attention to her cats than to her car or her speed or the road and I held my breath in an attempt not to explode.
I'm still working on me.
I'm reading a book called "Carry On, Warrior" by Glennon Doyle Melton. Her writing cracks me up, chokes me up, and makes me think. Sometimes I relate to her so well, and other times I respectfully disagree. But I always think about what I'm reading.
A line I read last week has been stuck in my brain and I have been savoring that thing like a rare candy. She was discussing confidence and humility, which she says are two sides of the same coin. Here's the quote I can't stop thinking about:
"I am confident because I believe that I am a child of God. I am humble because I believe that everyone else is too."So good, right?
I admit that I haven't figured out the confidence-humility thing. This simple explanation has really propelled me forward. It changes the way I see myself and other people.
Lately I've been trying to see people as, well, people. Not as crabby store clerk, distracted waiter, disheveled mom in front of me in line. I try to make eye contact and notice each individual and think about what else is behind them. Somebody had a fight before they came to work. Somebody will be going to care for an elderly parent after their shift. Somebody is just doing the best with what she has.
This wasn't an intentional experiment with humanity. After we came home from Cleveland and attempted to find "new normal," I found myself appreciating minute things. This meant I noticed more and I offered gratitude more. I had been the tired customer or the lady in the way or the mom who wasn't doing it all right, when in fact I just needed someone to see me as the weary soul who was one stumble away from falling and one kindness away from beginning to heal.
So I found myself interacting with people differently. And before I knew it, I caught myself humming during normal daily activities. Humming. I don't hum when I'm out where all the people are. But apparently I do. Because being able to run out and buy what I need isn't an inconvenience but a privilege that I lost for a year. All the moms of little ones probably know what I'm talking about.
Today I went to the pharmacy to get some cold medicine for Griffin. Two older ladies were in the same aisle, and one was shopping for cold medicine for her husband who is sick. She kept talking about what a baby he is and how she was looking for something to knock him out, and pretty soon we were all laughing!
I've missed a lot of these moments while I've had my head down just trying to get my thing done and get home. But I've benefited from the small kindnesses enough to know I want to hand them out.
I even let another parent cut in front of me in the school car line this morning.