Archive | October, 2010

The Guy from Philly

6 Oct

I put up post a while back about kindness. Last weekend, it happened again.

While in D.C. for a conference, we took time to sightsee on The Mall and at the Smithsonian. Josh and I needed to eat lunch, and I wasn’t particularly interested in the fare at the McDonald’s in Air and Space, so we went to a cafe at The Castle.

There was a ragtag group working that day, and it was late in the afternoon, 3-ish. A march had just finished on The Mall, and there was a crowd forming for food. The staff were not at their best, and frankly neither were we.

Josh and I made it all the way through the line, only to find that despite the cafe’s credit card signs, their machine wasn’t working. And of course I had no cash, because I never have cash in situations where I should.

The cashier wouldn’t budge, and I was not inclined to put everything back and give in to the McDonald’s. A guy behind us in line groaned loudly. “Okay, now we are going to have a scene. How could I be such an idiot!”

And suddenly, I realize that the loud guy with the big arms full of tattoos is really being very kind. He’s handing me a $20 bill to pay for the food. I politely declined, but he insisted.

When we got through the line, he said, “I just thought of being in that situation with my kid. Just mail me a check for $15.”

We exchanged addresses, and that was that.

No More “What’s Next?

3 Oct

For most of my life I’ve been aspiring to get to whatever was next. High school. College. Career. Marriage. Children. Always looking to that next point on the horizon. Not ever perfectly content with where I’ve been, always pushing forward with the thought in mind that whatever was next would be better than what came before.

Now, what’s next? The major milestones have been met. I’ve been restless the past few months and am just now realizing why.

I am at a midterm point. A crossroads. Middle age. I can now look backward and forward with some perspective on life. This is a point of dissatisfaction and “midlife crisis” for some. I’ll admit I went through that a few years ago and after an honest self-assessment determined that I am quite fortunate to be loved by a husband and family that are sometimes too patient with me. I am not perfect, and they love me anyway. This is a blessing that not everyone fully appreciates.

Now, the life decisions are more nuanced. Not about what I have, but about how I want to live in this world. More about form than function, such as:

  • Will I continue to do things the same way I’ve always done them, or will I change?
  • Will I truly know myself — my limitations and strengths — and accept both?
  • Will I make conscious choices to have the experiences that are most fulfilling, with the people in my life who can best share in that joy?

I think that adolescence is about determining the who am I and the why, young adulthood is determining the what and middle age is about the how and the with whom. I am feeling like the next decade or so will help me to learn more about people, care about the human interactions that energize life,  change the habits that are no longer helpful for me and accept the things about myself and others that are never going to change.