The most reflective time to walk our neighborhood is early morning before it , and the South Carolina summer heat, actually wake up.
It’s perfect — quiet, still, and almost heavenly.
Except for yesterday.
Yesterday, I was midway through my routine workout, headed down a long cul-de-sac, when I heard the most shrill, grating, “nails-on-a chalkboard” screeches ever. I looked over my shoulder and noticed the sound was coming from an old red wagon.
“Ugh”, I thought. “Here I am on a peaceful journey being chased by the loudest wagon in the world. Just my luck. Something’s always steals my zen.”
As I continued down the path, I could no longer focus on anything but the squealing wheels. And instead of pulling into one the cul-de-sac homes, the wagon continued to pursue me like a pesky gnat on an annoyance mission.
When I finally rounded the end of the road (mentally and physically), I was able to get a real good look at the neighborhood menace pulling the wagon from hell.
It was a mom. She looked just like me…like a woman who had just rolled out of bed to go for a walk. Her pace was slow. She was hot.
As I approached, I caught a glimpse of the little girl inside that wagon. She was around two, totally decked out in pink. Her attire was definitely operating at a higher level than her mode of transportation. She was a lil’ blonde diva with pink sunglasses as giant as her smile. Her happiness to be in the wagon momentarily erased my hatred for the wagon.
I briefly smiled and greeted them as we passed. I was eager to return “to my regularly scheduled”, “already in progress” zen.
Just as I reached the intersection for my turnoff, I saw a hot pink sun hat so fabulous that it could only belong to one very fashionable blonde diva. I picked it up, turned around, and noticed mom waving her arms claiming the hat at the end of the cul-de-sac.
We met halfway.
“Thank you,” she said. “She’s usually really good at keeping it on, but when we got home, I realized she had dropped it. We live at the end of the cul-de-sac.” she explained.
“No problem,” I said and then knelt down to hand Baby Diva her hat.
“Is this yours?” I asked in a higher-pitched, baby-talk voice that erupts from my lips anytime I engage young children.
The toddler’s happiness immediately elevated to a level that I only see when reunited with old friends, not a mere (yet, still quite adorable) sun hat. The pure joy was contagious.
“Thank you so much,” Mom reiterated, “This wagon is giving me a headache. I don’t think I could pull it any further.”
“No, please don’t!” I silently agreed. But instead responded, “You’re welcome. Happy to help. Have a great day.”
I turned back, headed home, and replayed this scenario in my head while listening to the wagon shrills get distant.
I am not sure why an interaction so ordinary struck me so deeply. Was it because I was already in a meditative state? Was it reinforcing a current narrative?
I do believe life holds lessons for all of us when we are ready to accept them. Accordingly, here are some metaphors this ordinary encounter left with me.
What sounds steal your focus? Who is stealing your “zen”?
What’s the source? Person? Environment? Situation?
Perhaps it’s time to take a different route. Focus can’t actually be stolen. We give it away.
Who is pulling your wagon?
We each momentarily sit in a squeaky wagon while someone stronger pull us through.
Think of all the great mentors, examples, heroes in your own life.
Do they know what they pulled you through? Do they understand their strength and influence? Did you express your gratitude?
Whose wagon are you pulling?
In my own recent quest to find mentorship, I have discovered my ability to mentor, lead, and coach. The more we know, as NBC beats into our heads, the more we can offer.
Find those who need your talents and knowledge, and pull the wagon.
What’s your pink hat?
What’s the one thing, that upon its reunion, will make you light up? An old friend? A lost dream? A childhood memory? Who will bring it back to you? Must you meet them halfway?
Does the squeaky wheel need your help?
Kindness begins in our own neighborhoods. In the constant quest to have and be “more”, we often overlook or irritate each other. Perhaps if we take the earbuds out and start moving, we can truly make a difference to those around us.
Don’t give your focus away. Thank those who pulled the wagon. Take your turn pulling it for others. Find the pink hat you dropped along the way. Be kind to those around you.
And finally, observe and learn from the ordinary. Apparently, it has a lot to teach us when we choose to listen.
Hey there. Thank you for reflecting with me. What did I miss? What other life metaphors do you see? What was the last great lesson wrapped in an ordinary interaction you experienced?