An elderly man just left my office. He was quite talkative, and honestly, I’m kind of surprised I didn’t find a way to politely wrap up the conversation like I sometimes do on a busy work day. But I could see that he just wanted someone to talk to and he was cheerful and pleasant, and I found myself intrigued.
He saw the picture on my desk of my son in his dress blues. First, he asked if that was my husband who is a Marine because I look far too young to have a child in the service. So, immediately I love this guy. Then he proceeded to tell me about his time in the Army and how he trained for months in the Mojave Desert. He said it was difficult, but he was thankful he wasn’t freezing in Alaska. He’s a “glass half-full” person!
As he got up to leave, I told him to have a great day. He replied, “how can it not be a great day? I have a roof over my head, clothes to wear and food to eat. I’d say that makes it a great day!” I’m sure this is something he says all the time, but to me, it was oddly profound. Especially today since I’ve been dwelling on things that don’t really matter in the big scheme of things.
We worry about our relationships, things we have said or done in the past, what someone else might think, our wardrobe, bills, our children and family. The list is never ending. Worry, worry, worry. We fight about the most ridiculous things. We carry anger, jealousy and hate around with us almost everywhere we go. We spend so much time living in the past that we don’t even realize it’s affecting our future. We stress about where to go for lunch, when there are people who haven’t eaten in days. We are anxious over the dirty bathroom or floor, when there are people sleeping in boxes. We wonder if we have the perfect shoes to wear with our outfit, when there are children scavenging through dumpsters looking for blankets.
So, I sat at my desk and just stared out the window for a while. I reflected on this little old man who has experienced more than I can imagine. He’s in the last stages of his life, and he’s so happy. He’s grateful for the roof over his head and the food on his table. Every day that he wakes up is a great day! And I start to feel ashamed and embarrassed. I realize we will always worry about our children and our finances. It’s inevitable. But we let that worry take over and suck the happy moments out of our days. We miss opportunities to play with our kids because we need a new profile picture. We’re not grateful for what we have, and we always want more.
Sometimes, we just need a new perspective. We need a reminder to count our blessings. Anything can be taken away from us at any moment, so we should make each moment matter. We should be making our time here as good as it can possibly be. We need to thank God for always providing us with what we truly need instead of wasting our days drowning in self-pity. We need to make more time for the people we love and for the people that God places in our lives, even if only for 5 minutes. What that man said to me was short and sweet, but so powerful and I know that he was put in my path for a reason.
The little old man got it right.