“It’s a beautiful day,” I observed to the older gentleman helping me at the quiet little store.
“When you get to be my age,” he said decidedly, with a piercing gaze, “you’ll realize that they are all beautiful days.”
We had never met before, but this sparked a lovely conversation. The gentleman, in his status of elder, clearly wanted to share the distillations of his lifetime of wisdom-gathering with someone willing to listen; I, with some time to spare before I had to be elsewhere, was happy to hear what my new friend had to say. This is what he told me:
· Recognize the blessing of each new day; the blessing is always there, whether or not you see it at first.
· Be sure to have goals, but don’t get caught up in thinking that attaining them is all-important: it’s the journey toward them that matters most.
· Keep your body in good working condition; you’ll need it.
· Listen more, and trust those around you.
· Recognize a good friend when you’ve got one.
· If you connect with your soul mate, count yourself immeasurably blessed.
There is nothing new or revelatory on this list; anyone reading it probably nods their head in agreement with a “yeah, sure, of course” attitude. The very fact that we know these things is what allows us to mentally acknowledge and then dismiss them.
But after 84 years of running and going, raising a family and doing business, all the desires and dreams and frustrations and sorrows to which this mortal coil is prone, it is these simple truths that my elder friend has distilled. They are simple, yes; that means that they are not complex, but not that they are not profound. There is more about really living contained in these simple words than a simple nod of the head can begin to acknowledge.
Thoughts of this conversation stayed with me as I went over to a routine doctor’s appointment a little later. My doctor’s office is housed next to the hospital where my husband David died, and the two share a parking garage. As I got out of my car to walk to the elevator, I thought about the 17 days in that other May, 9 years ago now, when I more or less lived in that hospital, when walking through that parking garage was a journey of heart-wrenching pain and unbearable love and felt like the most important thing that I could possibly do. I thought of my new elder friend’s words, and I stopped for a moment to recognize the blessing of those days, and this one; to remember the importance of that journey, and how it continues; and to give thanks for the immeasurable blessing of a soul mate whose love is always with me.