It sounds like a beginning to a particularly unfunny joke, but it is the truth. While it is ridiculous, and funny on hindsight, it got me thinking.
First, I'll tell you what I was doing so you have some context.
I was at a shopping center that shall have no name, primarily because it's Walmart and everyone seems to have an opinion about the huge conglomerate that is spreading evil to the masses through cheap labor and unwholesome low prices. I was getting a little Christmas shopping done. Primarily stocking stuffers, because, if we're honest with ourselves, Christmas isn't Christmas without stockings and the things we stuff in them. I was headed out of the store, the quick flash of grief that immediately comes with spending money having already passed through my body, when it happened.
I was at the door. I was headed toward freedom. The cool wind of the chilly December sky was beckoning me onwards. I was so close. When, suddenly, I felt a hot wave of pain on my ankles. A woman I had not noticed behind me was walking on my heels. Not content with my speed, she decided to run into me. I turned around, astonished. It was the first time someone had ever hit me. I was amazed that I could lose my crash virginity to a shopping cart.
I turned back to her expectantly, thinking that perhaps it had been an accident. She looked at me with all of the scorn and contempt of a woman who felt no shame. Her expression merely said, "What?". She said nothing. She had no apology or no words of comfort. She merely wanted me to get out of her way. I struggled with my anger for a second. I wanted to curse her up one side of her shopping cart to the other. Then, I came to a quick decision that I can now safely say that I'm proud of.
I decided to turn the other cheek. (I certainly couldn't turn the other ankle). I decided to walk away.
I readily admit that I sometimes struggle with my anger. I can place blame easier than I like to admit. It's easy for me to see something bad and immediately ride the person off as not worth my time, cutting them out instantly, or see them as someone without morals or respect. She may very well have been a disrespectful person, but I decided to let my imagination excuse her. It was possible that she was a Gypsy woman with a painful past; she was having flashbacks when she crashed in to me. Maybe she was a retired spy who was trying to run from an old associate and I got in her way. Or maybe she was in the middle of feeling a wave of stress at having the silly season spring up on her again. Christmas can be stressful after all, I've learned.
People get in such a frenzy to buy things, to hurry up and get that one thing that will make their loved one's day. I understand the need. We've all been there. We've all not had enough money to buy what we want, or not enough time to get everything done. We want things to be perfect, not allowing, of course, for the wonderfully awesome ability we humans have to mess up. Imperfections are part of life. I celebrate them, mainly because I have so many! They are, I'm afraid, part of our genetic makeup. And I find that to be so incredibly reassuring.
The point I think I'm trying to make is that it's okay if you don't have the money or the time. The people in your life who truly matter aren't going to care if things are perfect. They are going to look at your face, see the love you share, and be grateful for everything they have in you. The presents are lovely, the warm fire a nice addition, but it is not everything. Slow down, take a deep breath, and enjoy the world around you. Getting in a hurry won't make you enjoy things more. I've been there. I know.
So, this holiday season, I beg you to smile, find some peace, and appreciate a world that will continue to spin regardless or not if you get that new TV (or an awesome book written by your favorite author).
Just smile. Spread the kindness. And take a long, deep breath. Everything is going to be okay.