Lessons From The Grocery Store

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Is it me, or does the pressure seem to be increasing?

Lately it feels like individually and collectively we are in some sort of pressure cooker. The good news is the time is ripe for change & healing. Maybe that’s the way life has been all along and I just didn’t notice the abundance of opportunities to learn, grow & heal. 

The latest poignant moment is brought to you by meeting the most basic of needs, hunger and what I encountered in the grocery store. 

The errand run into town was like any other day, dance music on the way in to prepare me for being around people, noticing the flow of traffic, greeting folks at the hardware store and a quick food shop and lunch to-go at Wegmans, our local grocery store. 

I spent my first 10 minutes walking around getting my few supplies. As usual, I left my phone in the car. It’s too overwhelming for me to walk around a crowded store and even think about communicating with someone else who is off in the ethers on the other side of my phone. 

My practice is to wander around Wegmans looking at people, smiling at them, even blessing them internally as I shop.

Why? Because people are suffering. People are having a hard time. 

People are scared. 

Scared for their own reasons that are none of my business. And sure, some of them aren’t. Maybe they’re making eye contact and smiling as they shop as well. 

Who knew my blessing practice would be tested? Ahh, alas, I’m a human.

My next stop was to get a salad made to go. I stood in line to get my salad made alongside a young woman on her phone. 

In conversation. 

The WHOLE time.

Talking away on her phone as  she was going through the line and ordering different salad fixings. Gone was the feel-good smiling me. I could feel my annoyance rising at the rudeness and disrespect to the person making the salad (My quadruple cancer-Aries-moon-and-rising righteous anger!). I may have even scowled at her. 🙄 

And then I shifted. 

I was “annoyed” by the disrespect the young woman was enacting. (A little classism in action but that’s for another post). But maybe she was having a hard day? Maybe she could only get through a shop by distracting herself talking to someone on the phone? 

I have no idea her reasons.

And the truth is underneath the anger, I was sad. Sad because she missed an opportunity to look the young woman who was serving her in the eye. To connect with her. To smile at her. To see and be seen. Sad because that’s the medicine we can offer each other’s bruised hearts. Our heart beaming out of our eyes, briefly connecting with each other. ❤️❤️❤️ 

Maybe next time I’ll be able to remember this a little quicker. Maybe I’ll be able to smile at her regardless of my perceived rudeness. Maybe I’ll be brave enough to encourage the next person I see acting like that young woman to come out a little & connect. 

And maybe I won’t. But I certainly know that NO ONE makes a lasting change when they are scowled at or yelled at or told they are wrong. 🫀❤️

So I try to remember:

We are all human. 

We are all trying to paddle our way through this life.

And we have no idea what is going on for someone else unless they tell us. 

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I'm a researcher, educator, guest lecturer, and co-founder of Heartstone Center for Earth Essentials in Van Etten, NY.