The day before yesterday in my Group a therapist read us the story of a woman who bought herself a bag of cookies at the airport and sat down next to a gentleman to wait for her flight. The sack of cookies was between them, and her neighbor kept reaching in to help himself to her cookies. She grew silently outraged at his audacity. When there was only one cookie remaining, he took it and offered her half, and she accepted it with obvious resentment. Seething, she boarded her flight. Then she looked in her carryon and found her own bag of uneaten cookies. The man had, in fact, been sharing his cookies with her.
I'd heard this story before and it reminded me of the "what if" game a parent at school once shared she plays when she feels resentment building toward her fellow humans. What if, she imagines, the poky driver in front of her has the family goldfish in a bowl on the front passenger seat, to be delivered to her daughter, sick in the hospital? What if the angry person in line didn't sleep last night, worrying about how to pay the bills since he lost his job?
Now, more than ever, I am appreciating that everyone has a story, whether it's worn on the sleeve or not. So little do we know, right, lady in the airport? My certainties have been toppled, and I am in a process of looking more closely and carefully gathering anew what I know to be true. And leaving so much unfathomed.
Among the gifts of this journey I'm on are increased empathy, decreased judgment. My sensitivity is heightened. The smallest gestures of human kindness, patience, and generosity are very meaningful to me.
Thank you for that hug.
I'm slower, simpler, smaller-lived for now. Less music on the radio, less screen, fewer correspondences, less noise, fewer choices. I purge and long for less stuff, as if to simultaneously unclutter my busy brain.
I am in more stillness. More baby and her easily identifiable needs. More family.
My goal is to reconcile this pace, this safe place I'm in, with the life I need to lead to be mother, wife, worker, friend, healthy me. There must be an acceptable, livable, enriching middle ground.