I sit in the Starbucks, the new one just across from the mall on #10 Hwy. I come to places like this to notice things…learn things…about people…about myself. The more fully I am present in these moments, the stolen moments of noticing, the more my noticing gives life meaning.
The four older gentlemen in the corner table are reminiscing about the job site up North. One of the men is clearly the story teller, reminding the rest of their shared history, hoarse laughter erupts…and then a lot of coughing. I smile. How many birthdays are represented around that table..these men with their black coffees? What does this shared history hold that has glued these four men together so that early morning coffees on Thursdays at Starbucks are not missed?
And, I notice in contrast the three students across from me. Two of them, giving away their school of study in their TWU hoodies. Heads down, shoes off, legs crossed on the chair, ear buds in…focussed on the book in the lap with glances up to the Macbook. Nursing students? The large textbook is Anatomy. I notice my breath come in slow and deep. Fewer birthdays there, in comparison to the old timers behind me. The young women have potential, so much potential…an abundance of birthdays ahead of them.
Thinking now of my people in post-secondary study, full of potential…beginning a life that will be both exciting and terrifying. Remembering my potential many moons ago, head down hunkered in behind textbooks and lecture halls wondering what my future might look like…did I ever think how it would be so rewarding and equally challenging??
The couple standing in the line, heads down, standing close are still…waiting patiently. I notice his arm go to her back and rub softly, right behind the shoulder blades. She rests her head on his shoulder. Is there sadness in the touch…in the laying of her head? I wonder…what do they carry into today? Will they be missing someone’s birthday this year…someone who is lost to them. I smile at myself because the story may be far less tragic, he very well may be comforting her as an apology for keeping her up most of the night with a sound that droned on and on. The snoring so loud that no amount of jiggling the bed or rolling him over quietened.
Of course, that would be inserting my own experience into their story. I bite my lip, holding back the grin while I reflect on the possibility of sleeping alone tonight…in peace and quiet…without my earplugs.
My smile widens.
A young boy is sent on a mission, he is maybe four, to take his garbage, gripped in both hands, to the counter receptacle. He cannot see the opening in the counter above him, being four-year-old and vertically challenged, but he learns…with help from a customer standing by the barista waiting for her Chestnut Praline Latte- no whip, extra hot. He learns to reach up, way up above his head…and toss. The young one’s mom and dad watch and encourage “Reuben” in his efforts, he deposits his empty cup and giggles, scooting back to his parents and asks for more garbage to “do it again!”
I consider finishing my coffee quickly to give him my empty because he is truly proud of himself and I catch his infectious smile spreading onto my face.
And I notice another feeling creeping into my gut, with this look of accomplishment spreading across the four-year-olds cheeks, -a prickle in my eyes.
Oh. My. Word. This is a gut ache of sadness.
That little human is the reminder that I no longer have four-year-olds to cheer on who learn to throw cups away in tall garbages…that times of watching little people learn new things…like drinking through straws…or tying shoes…smiling when they turn, eyebrows raised saying, “look at me,…I did it!” Those days for my humans are memories.
Looking around this morning while I write and notice things, a smile keeps creeping into my “almost” fifty-year-old face. Oh, those humans…those incredibly cheeky, complex, delightful people who daily drain all the energy from my mind and body.
Oh, how I love them!
I am not afraid of milestones, transitions or changes. Fifty will mean four more years of memories made and stored away for the days where it feels heavy, or hopeless or both. Those are the days when other memories need to be taken down off the shelf and given a good review.
I have learned to hold the precious space of right now looking back to all the moments that have made up the days, the hours, the minutes, right up to the now…of Starbucks, and Reuben…and nursing students and four cantankerous old men enjoying morning coffee.
Life is precious. A gift. Words so often used lightly, but today, for me, the meaning is weighty.
I love my people.