Wake Up to Experience: Sometimes it can hit you right in the ass without even knowing it.
As I began my walk yesterday, an old woman, much smaller than a young child approached me on the trail. I quickly learned she was the one responsible for putting this beautiful walking trail along the highway, a place for thousands of walkers, runners, cyclists, strollers and canines. Her name is Florence. Easily giving up my brisk walk, I found myself in Florence’s experience, soaking up her attitude, putting aside my own sadness awhile (having a rough day), open to learn.
At 95 years old, her physical pain, in agony many days, there Florence stood in the middle of the trail. Her tiny face, engulfed by immense sunglasses, a bright smile looked up and said “good morning to you!” She spoke of her meandering trail, how she wanted the community to have a safe place to walk, went to the county, fought to build a respite for others to enjoy. I walked her home, around the corner from where we stood, though this was no jaunt. Each step taken, her newly acquired three prong cane in hand, deliberate care, with consciousness, she and I eventually made it to her home of 30 years. She spoke of her life, her “unusual” husband she adored, her beautiful children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. More than anything else, she wanted to show me what she called, her “wicked triplets.” As if I could possibly pass up something like this? Not likely.
Three ginormous cards stand on her sofa, her “wicked triplets”; an homage to Florence from a community who reached out after her precious bronze plaque had been stolen March of 2012. Gathering funds, new plaque replaced, those grateful to one woman who made a difference in their community. Her pride, well-founded, her gratitude admired.
- Pay attention to experience, pay attention to community. We may not understand or realize its significance at the time, yet do not dismiss what is to be learned. For years I have walked that trail, never meeting Florence until yesterday. I put myself out there in life for this reason alone – to learn from the collection of people I encounter. The “Florence’s” in life remind me I am but a small part of this great universe. Gratitude begets, trumps everything else. Compassion must come before love, for it is in compassion where love reigns.