“You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.” -Paulo Coelho
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” -Melody Beattie
Yesterday, I went to Whole Foods in search of some unsweetened & coarsely shaved coconut [to add texture to my breakfast granola]. I walked into the two story building and was COMPLETELY overwhelmed. The first floor had produce, grains, nuts, ready-to-go meals, and an entire section for supplements and shampoo and conditioner and all of that sort of stuff. I basically wanted to buy everything, but then I’d look at the prices and would immediately redirect my attention.
I took the escalator up to the second floor and was anticipating more overwhelm as I reached the second floor. As I got off the escalator, I looked to my right and made eye contact with a woman standing by a little table. She smiled at me, I smiled back, and she asked, “would you like to sample some coconut water?” I said “sure” and walked over…
It was an interesting moment, because it was almost like she caught me off guard. I was silently making myself anxious about the hunt I was about to go on for coconut shavings, and her smile pulled me out of my self-imposed struggle. If I would’ve seen her in advance, I might’ve done what I usually do when I try to avoid people, and would’ve looked the other way or pretended that I didn’t hear her.
[Sigh, yes, I do those things. And I also pretend to be on my phone, or I wear headphones to avoid connecting with people. It’s something I’m becoming more aware of, and am working on changing. I think that meeting this woman was my sign to really make a push toward changing my ignore-the-world behaviors.]
I drank a sample of the coconut water, and then we proceeded to chat for more than an hour about a few of my favorite things: healthy living, personal development, relationships, and parenting [because even though I’m not yet a parent, I love to talk to actual parents about parenting styles -- I consider it research for when E & I embark on that journey in the future].
We just stood there and chatted, and I completely lost track of time. We were both completely authentic, and I could feel my energy being lifted the whole time we were chatting…I cried at one point [who ME?], and she even teared up a couple of times. I could’ve talked to her for hours, but I had more work to do, so we exchanged numbers and I headed home…soaking up the buzz of our unexpected and energizing conversation.
It was an amazing experience…our interaction left me feeling so utterly grateful and fortunate. It seemed like every time one of us started to talk about something deeper, the other person accepted the invitation and went deeper too.
It really renewed my faith in society. I know that might sound like a huge statement -- I’m completely aware of the gravity of that statement. And I stand by it. When I think about being able to connect with somebody on that deep of a level in such a “short” period of time [on a clock], and then I think about how many people there are in the world…I believe that there must be so many more people like us who are willing to slow down, show up, and see what happens.
When people are young, I think that Stranger-Danger is a legitimate teaching…”don’t go with the creepy man who offers you candy.” Totally legit. However, now that I’m an adult, I sometimes take Stranger-Danger too seriously. To be clear, I still think that Stranger-Danger can be a healthy mindset, IN THE RIGHT CIRCUMSTANCES [“don’t walk down a dark alley alone at night”]…but in other circumstances, a situation might end up like it did yesterday…Stranger-Friend… one of my favorite kinds of interactions!
And that was the time I went to Whole Foods for some coconut shavings, and left with a new friend...and coconut shavings. :)