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Spontaneous Overflow Reflecting in Tranquility

The Official Blog of Michael Schoenhofer, Executive Director

Thoughts in Uncertainty #1

I Told an Old Lady to Back Off Today.

I was out shopping today at our local grocery store. I only had a few items to get and was having trouble finding what I wanted. There was no sherry for one of our recipes and no rhubarb for a pie we wanted to make. A little old lady in a surgical mask went by me the wrong way on the one-way system of aisles in the store.

When she couldn’t find what she was looking for, she started out backing down the aisle to stay within the one-way guidelines. She found this backing maneuver so tricky that when she was almost at the end of the aisle, she whipped her basket around and sped toward the spot where I was standing. I jumped back to let her pass.

Afterward, I moved along looking for frozen kale for our smoothies—nothing. Since when did everyone start eating frozen kale? I was getting discouraged, so I moved to the baking aisle. I had to go around the “block” a few times to make sure I was heading in the right direction. I found the last pack of bread flour, and after scouring the shelves discovered the last packet of yeast. Since when did everyone start baking bread?

I moved toward the front of the store to check out. There were giant “X’s” on the floor where each customer should stand. There weren't many shoppers this morning, and I waited in line for my turn, standing on the designated “X,” keeping a safe distance. The same little old lady I encountered in the frozen kale aisle now got in line behind me and, ignoring her “X,” sidled up right behind me. She started unloading her basket onto the checkout counter. At that point, I turned to her and said in an annoyed voice, “WOAH! That is way too close.”

She looked up at me, and I could see the startle in her eyes above the surgical mask she was wearing. She said, "Oh! Sorry. I keep forgetting." It was as if she awakened from a shopper's trance. Then she put some items back in her cart and backed up almost 2 "X’s.”

I wished that I was a little kinder. I eked out, "That's OK. No problem."

That's the biggest challenge these days for me to remember to be kind. There are so many things that exasperate me—places I can’t travel to, people who don’t agree with my way of thinking, items I’d like to buy at the store. No matter what I think or what I think you think, I can still be kind. I guess that is something I need to practice more.

I hope I see that old lady again, who wasn't that much older than me, so I can be kind. Or maybe the next time someone exasperates me, I can put a kind tone in my voice.

It doesn’t matter what I believe or what I believe you believe; I can be kind, civil, and respectful.

It's challenging now, with so much uncertainty surrounding us all. I can’t fix anything or anyone. But I can change my mind to think about everything and everyone differently. We are all just doing our best.

I will try to be kind.

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