Today was an ordinary Wednesday morning.
I woke up just after five o'clock intending to read only a chapter or two of the book on my nightstand, but got on such a roll, I couldn't stop, and finished it with time to still clean out my purse, water my flowers, shower, and make oatmeal for the road.
Not long after, the day began turning extraordinary.
A couple miles from work I took a detour. “Are you up for a hug? I'm in your driveway.” This was the text I sent to a friend who's hurting. I sat in the driveway hoping I was giving her enough time to respond before I had to head on to work. “Yes!” came her reply.
I left my car running and walked up her front sidewalk to her door. She opened the door smiling. I enveloped her in a hug and held her for a long time. I told her I loved her and that I was hurting for her. There isn't anything I can do to fix her woes, but to remind her she's not alone. We both got choked up and kept hugging.
As I drove away, I thought about all the times a friend had swooped in and through kind words and actions had helped me feel less alone and capable of weathering the present storm. I felt gratitude for the end of that season, for the lessons it taught me, and for the presence of mind to follow this morning's impulse where it led.
That would have been the highlight of my day, but there was more to come. I had a spontaneous and non-small-talk conversation with a colleague from a different department when we ran into each other in the cafeteria. Our conversation took us to a variety of places: raising resilient only daughters, finding work-life-creative balance, how we believe that our Christian faiths are best lived out through our actions rather than our words, a book recommendation, and plans to go to lunch when her big deadline passes. You know, standard water cooler fare.
We parted, and I headed outside to eat my now-cold hot lunch and to take a quick walk. I took off the denim blouse I wore over a sleeveless top in my freezing office and tied it around my waist as I hit the pavement.
I welcomed the sunshine that warmed my bare arms and noted a lovely breeze and low humidity—so uncommon for St. Louis Julys. The conversation with my colleague had filled most of my lunch hour, so I planned on a truncated walk. I'd take the public path that cut through the neighborhood rather than going all the way to the park and sitting on my bench.
A few blocks into the walk, woman got out of her parked car next to the curb. We exchanged hellos as I passed. She commented on how cool I looked, a testament to the shade, the cooler temperatures, and the breeze.
I am my father's daughter. I don't know a stranger, and so I didn't keep moving. I learned in about eight minutes that I was speaking to Margaret Ann, who had just returned from getting her hair trimmed at Great Clips. This seemed a big outing for her given that she was struggling with some sort of respiratory something. We discussed my walking route, where I worked and lived, why it's important that we fund raise for the university I work at. She told me she'd discuss their giving to the university with her alumni husband after she heard my explanation. She confessed that her husband, who had retired nine months ago, was driving her crazy and that she wanted him to find a job, to find something that he'd lost—a sense of importance or purpose.
“I'm keeping you,” she repeated a few times. I stood firmly on the sidewalk. I get a sense from people sometimes. She needed this conversation. I did too. We exchanged names and wished each other well, and I resumed my walk.
Because I love people so much, this day kept filling me up. It helped to take the edge off the low-grade anxiety I feel about all the studying I have for my next yoga test.
I cannot bear to pass up a lemonade stand when I see one. A few weeks ago, I had just pulled out of the parking garage when I saw a lemonade stand across the street from a construction site. I pulled over and asked for a cup. An industrious entrepreneur and his little brother had set up shop wisely to catch the construction workers on their way home from the job site. I was impressed with the older boy's ability to speak to adults and the way he mentored his little brother in the transaction.
Today, I saw this same boy solo on the opposite corner this time selling snow cones. I'm not a fan of snow cones, but I didn't pass up the chance to help his business.
I drove home reflecting on all of this and how grateful I am that I have become proficient at being a human who pays attention, who stops and pauses, and makes moments out of seemingly nothing. This is as much a creative act as is my writing. It nourishes me as does my writing.
When I pulled into my driveway, I noticed a box on my front porch. Yes! I was pretty sure I knew who it was from and I was right! Inside I found: a beautiful technicolor dream-scarf for me to wear in my freezing office, a frog statue in a yoga pose to put in my garden, a sachet, a pencil bag for my daughter, a yoga memoir, and a card with this sentiment:
“The one thing all famous authors, world class athletes, business tycoons, singers, actors, and celebrated achievers in any field have in common is that they all began their journeys when they were none of these things.” – Mike Dooley
This soul sister knows me and the gifts she chooses for me prove it. There's nothing sweeter than when one's actions match their words.
Now I sit at my writing spot watching the sunlight change the sky's colors. Soon I'll have to turn on a lamp. I have a few things on my to-do list that I've been putting off. They don't feel so pesky now after this good day. Not every day will feel this extraordinary, but no day will if I live it with my eyes and heart closed.
Here's to open eyes and open hearts.