It is easy to get caught up in the turmoil of the world around us, as much as the turmoil that is right nearby. Many a time I have seen strangers staring at a mom trying to control her unruly toddler in a store. He wants an expensive toy, and she gives it to him rather than listen to him scream.
It seems that all around us are fires and murders, horrific storms and scary, roller coaster politics. It is easy to accept such fate and slog depressively through life. There must be more…there is more if one just looks for it.
I was behind a woman in a Walmart line as she patiently waited for the cashier, all the while praising her son for sitting so nicely in the carriage. He waved the six-pack of Paw Patrol socks he was encouraged to pick out, and he happily named all of the colorful characters in his sweet, toddler voice. Lovingly, she gave him a teddy bear hug and a loud, sloppy kiss, which left them both in a fit of laughter. Their happiness was enticing.
There is no greater joy for me than to occasionally eat the food I love; a heated cheese Danish from Starbucks, shortbread cookies from Dave’s filled with raspberry filling, lobster drenched in butter, and a steak perfectly grilled so it is charred and crispy on the outside and pink on the inside. These foods are like a magic potion, melting in my mouth and making me warm and happy inside.
Friends, one in a wheelchair and one not, traverse the mall, gleefully window shopping and jokingly lamenting they wish they had all the money in the world to buy what they wanted. Other friends, deaf, are having a lively conversation over lunch at Panera Bread. Their hands move with the speed of light, impossible for hearing people to comprehend. They smile and laugh, obviously enjoying their friendship.
Random people regularly hold doors for others and sometimes pay for orders of the car waiting behind them at Dunkin Donuts. They let cars cut in front of them in traffic, smiling and waving at each other. They wait patiently and smile while a new cashier struggles to take their order. They say please and thank you.
Unlimited numbers of volunteers cheerfully pet cats at the animal shelters, play Uno and color pictures with ill children at Hasbro, build houses for the impoverished, make food for the homeless, run races for breast cancer or autism, and sit with terminally ill patients. Although their gestures improve the lives of others, it is their own lives that are rewarded with contentment.
The other day, while driving my granddaughter home, she kept asking for “music.” She hated it when the music would stop and the DJ would talk. “No listen him. Want MUSIC!” she would screech in her indignant toddler voice. Trying all of the radio channels, only one seemed to have constant music, the classical channel. (I had not listened to classical music since my 7th grade class at Gorton had a field trip to the RI Philharmonic.) On that one particular day, driving her home after another calamitous rainstorm, I was casually listening to the music, letting the chords and the sounds of the different instruments acquainting itself into my body. Around the bend of the road, the skies opened up as if to celebrate the end of the storm. The sun brightly gleamed through the clouds and struck me with awe, just as the music came to a soul-stirring climax. The sight and sound at once burst my heart open with happiness and hope. Life IS good; one just has to look for the signs.