His voice broke through the Tuesday morning buzz of businessmen meeting and moms chatting and baristas calling out orders. I was focused on making sure I poured just the right amount of cream in my grande Pike Place when I heard him ask, looking up at me over his newspaper as he did so, “Big day, long day, so-so day?”
I glanced around, just sure this stranger was talking to someone else.
So I answered his question.
“You know, sir, I don’t know yet–it’s the day before a couple vacation days and honestly anything could happen.”
We both smiled, and he said, “Well, yes, I guess it could.”
And then I was on my way, and he was back in his paper.
The whole thing seemed so beautifully funny. And so human. And so exactly what we need these days in our communities–the sort of random connection that reminds us we are not islands unto ourselves after all.
Two traffic lights and a mile or so down the road, the truth of the words I’d spoken to him struck me, “…anything could happen.”
Always and every day. Anything can happen. Good or bad. And we never know until it actually does.
I know it probably seems so obvious, but sometimes the obvious bears saying most of all: Anything can happen–and this is exactly why gratitude matters. Gratitude for whatever goodness and generosity we can find, even if it’s slim pickings.
Look, y’all, if I’m being completely honest, there’s a boatload of things I am not grateful for. Not. At. All. A whole lot I wish had not happened or wasn’t happening in both my personal life and the life I live in the various communities I am a part of. It’s hard–maybe impossible–to truly be grateful for the stuff that breaks our hearts and steals our dreams and shakes our souls.
Last night, I could not decide where to put the Christmas tree. The Christmas tree I bought on clearance last November not knowing I’d be in a different house by this coming Christmas. It simply would not fit anywhere.
I rearranged the living room three times (and that’s on top of the rearranging I did of it last week…) to figure it out. After the second time, I lost it. Flopped down on the brick fireplace edge and cried.
Yep. Over a Christmas tree placement. Tears. (Maybe not my finest moment?)
Of course…the issue wasn’t the issue and it really wasn’t about the Christmas tree at all. It was about everything that has led to me and my girl being in this house. All the change. All the brokenness. All the uncertainty. All the sadness. All the fear.
All the things.
I let myself wallow in self-pity for about 5 minutes. And then I thought, “No. Not like this.” And so I stood up, and looked around, and realized clear as day what needed to happen, and Rearrange Number Three worked just exactly right, and that tree got put up and plugged in, and the lights worked their magic, and I was able to breathe again.
And I was able to remember how deeply grateful I am for this house I never imagined living in. And how deeply grateful I am to be that Curly Girl’s mother. And how deeply grateful I am for the friends and family who have helped us make that house a home with free labor and free meals and free furniture. How deeply grateful I am for those we do this crazyhardbeautifulgutwrenchingamazing life with.
How deeply grateful I am…. Even in the moments when the things I am not grateful for threaten to undo me.
Anything can happen. In the blink of an eye all hell could break loose…or all angels could come tumbling down with more mercy and love than we’ve ever imagined could be ours. This is so hard to see, so difficult to believe, when we are in the thick of grief or anger or anxiety or fear. Still…I believe it, even if I sometimes forget that I do.
Big day? Long day? So-so day? I don’t know…anything could happen. And so, for now, I think I’ll be deeply grateful for that quick five minutes in Starbucks this morning, and the much-needed perspective that came with my coffee.