I spend a great deal of time writing about food and fitness, rest and recovery. Why? Because I think it is important for a person to take proper care of his body? Why? So he can function well in this life.
There are times when I need to sit back and observe what functioning well in life looks like. The last time I looked, I didn’t see anyone running their Saturday errands with a barbell overhead.
Over the past few weeks I made a note to myself to pay attention to people who crossed my path. People who fascinated me by how they enriched their lives, and the lives of those around them. My wife, Suzanne, did the same thing.
This past weekend we compared notes and we each had experienced an encounter which was memorable.
Usually I plan a mid-day trip to Starbucks, not necessarily because I need a cup of coffee, but I do need to break away from my office routine and to gather my wits.
On Monday, I observed a scholarly gentleman probably in his early seventies rush to an elderly lady in the shop to chat about their summer activities. I wasn’t deliberately eavesdropping, but they were at the chairs next to me, so I couldn’t avoid hearing their conversation.
I picked up that she was a retired teacher, he may have been also. He then told her he had been memorizing Irish literature over the course of the summer. She asked for a sample, and he stood up boldly and performed an impromptu recitation including the accent.
I was amused by his confidence and brashness to do such a thing in the coffee shop. When he was done, he sat back down in his chair and she gently patted him on the hand and complimented him for a job well done.
On Thursday, I saw the same guy, at the same Starbucks. He had a huge stack of books next to his coffee cup. He would glance at a page in one books, then close his eyes and meditate on what he had read, he did this repeatedly. He was memorizing the pages, without reciting aloud. I must admit I was amazed at his discipline.
Then another friend saw him, and asked how his summer was going. He proceeded to explain that he was working on a one man play about freedom. His material was being gleaned from the writings of the abolitionists and the final words will be from Abraham Lincoln. He explained that he is working feverishly to pare the performance down to 45 minutes.
His friend went back to his newspaper, and the poet/thespian went back to his silent memorization skills. I sat there embarrassed that I was simply catching up on Facebook. I have been kicking myself ever since, for not introducing myself, and taking a moment to know this man.
Suzanne is an Antiques Collector, Picker and Dealer. I love her dearly, but my garage gym is still filled with her stuff.
Last week she left early Saturday morning to scour the countryside in central Massachusetts in search of old stuff that she can sell in her co-op shop space in New Hampshire. As she was making her way home, she stopped at an old barn. There was an elderly lady, who was 78, running the show. She had tons of wonderful old stuff for sale.
Suzanne found a few treasures that were priced such that she could make a profit reselling them in the shop. But more valuable than the bargains was the conversation. These two women hit it off. Suzanne told me this old lady had more energy than most 40 years olds and her mind was sharp.
When she was about to leave, the lady invited Suzanne to join her for lunch this week, to meet some of her friends. “I hope you like liver and onions dear, I’m known for my excellent liver and onions.” Suzanne was quick to come up with a diplomatic response, explaining that one either loves liver or hates it, and that she fell into the latter camp. Her new friend chuckled and told her that she would prepare something else.
Suzanne returned to the farm on Thursday for lunch with the ladies. They sat on the porch and drank iced tea and lunch was served – liver and onions. But she brought Suzanne an exquisitely prepared salmon steak.
Over the course of the afternoon, the ladies chatted about growing up in the city and why they all moved to the country. Her friend told her about the bakery she and her late husband had. After he had died, a robber came into the bakery and threatened her with a knife. She instinctively grabbed the first thing she could find, which was a mixing bowl and smashed him in the head and face with it, driving him out of the store.
This would be the first of many adventures Suzanne would hear over the course of the day. Suzanne describes her new friends as a pistol. This lunch date turned into evening. Their lunch began at noon and Suzanne didn’t get home until past 8:00 PM.
When we chatted over dinner on Friday, we both knew that we had each encountered a fascinating human being. This man and this woman clearly demonstrated that people who remain active can maintain their mental and physical well-being and bring joy and excitement to those around them. People who cross paths with these two very different individuals find themselves blessed with their friendship and their optimistic and grateful attitude about life.
So I led with the headline, “What must you do to impact the people around you?” As I examine these two people, as real-life examples, I would say that you must be Bold, Courageous, and Eager to Learn. That is a good starting point for all of us, wouldn’t you say?
Tell me about an everyday person who has made a lasting impression on you, and how they did that. What did you learn and how can we impact those around us? I’d love to hear your comments.