I love Leigh Newman’s insights so much I’m not going to crowd this link with any other Friday Love. She writes:
All of us—even the bleakest and unluckiest of us—get seven particular moments, those brief, unexpected times when the stars do more than align; they communally redirect their light expressly to illuminate the value of our wee, earthly existence.
These moments sometimes go unnoticed and are almost always unexpected. They are not subject to the vicissitudes of your success or failure. They are not something you can blame yourself for not experiencing sooner or flog yourself into experiencing now. They are on their own time schedule. They have happened to you or will happen to you sooner or later. The key is not letting them slip by uncelebrated.
I’m headed to Birmingham, he said, softly kissing my sleeping face in the darkness. Be back tonight.
I swam hard for the shore of awake that I might properly tell him goodbye, have a good meeting, be safe. But of course by then he was gone, the sound of the garage door closing behind him. And so I lay there thinking of the dream I had just been in, wondering where the story came from, what it all meant. And in a matter of moments I was fully awake, ready to get on with the day.
Coffee in hand (yes, he made coffee for me before leaving), I opened my laptop to find this email among the heap of overnight arrivals.
This one is great for the grocery store, the takeout burrito restaurant or anywhere else that involves really tired people trying their best, even as they fumble and flail. For example, the woman in front of you pays the cashier but then has to rifle through her overstuffed wallet to put away the change, then store the receipt, then mash the whole fat leather money accordion into her purse. She will usually complete this action with frantic fingers because she knows she’s delaying the whole line; she knows everybody just wants to go home; and she knows she should not save old, mostly-used-up gift cards with 63 cents on them. Telling her to “Take your time. I’m not in rush” always sets off the same reaction: first, surprise (really? because everybody’s in a rush…) and then a flash of sweet wide-open relief. You have just given somebody a three-minute holiday, not from the stress of life, but from the stress we put on ourselves.
Yes, I thought, remembering the power of my recent grocery store exchange. Yes, such a tiny little gesture, a gift returned to me in the kind acknowledgement of a stranger, this woman who, like me, is simply doing the best she can.