Prepare to go deep, we're gonna get emotional and I may cry... Grab some comfort food and read on, dear reader.
I was sitting at the McDonald's at Central Station when an elderly couple came and sat at the table next to me. At first there didn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary about this couple, but after watching them I noticed how much they enjoyed and embraced the little things in their lives. I first noticed this when they were discussing what they wanted to eat. The husband seemed unsure of himself, not being a regular customer at McDonald's he was unsure as to what he was able to order. So his wife said she'd surprise him as she went off to order. The old man took his seat, looking around the restaurant, all the while seeming perfectly content. He didn't pull out a phone or a book or even the news paper, he was perfectly happy to sit and wait. When his wife returned she surprised him with a new item on the menu, saying that she wasn't sure but she hopes he will like it. Now I'm sure you all think this is very trivial, but I promise there is a point! (And you may find the story even gets better so bear with me). Despite this being a trivial interaction, it was the joy that sat deep in their eyes as they went about their business. You could feel the love they had for each other radiating, and they seemed so happy to just be spending a day in the city together.
I feel in our society, we are so worried and occupied with the end product of whatever we are doing that we forget to occasionally take a step back and just enjoy the journey. We rush to work, then we cram as much as we can into our days so we can get that next promotion, then we race home to catch the next episode of whatever TV show is currently the most popular, only to fall asleep and start the cycle over again. Always rushing to get to the next stage in our life. Our spare time is spent surfing the web or being too exhausted to really do anything. We work ourselves into the ground and because of this we feel the need to treat ourselves more regularly. Yet if we start to treat ourselves everyday, it becomes less of a treat and starts to just become part of the routine, and this defeats the purpose of a treat. You need to take the time to enjoy it, life isn't about a race to the finish line, it's about all of the little moments, every step you take along the way.
I eventually got chatting with the elderly couple, and only very briefly. I never learnt the wife's name, but the husband was named Bill. (For the sake of the story let's call the wife Mary). Mary informed me that they were in the city to see a doctor, I found out that Bill was very sick and they didn't think he was going to get better. He was developing the early signs of dementia. Mary feared that soon he wouldn't even be able to remember her name. They had been married for almost 45 years. Yet Mary hadn't given in to the sadness or the hopelessness of the situation. She knew that she didn't have much time left with Bill, or at least with the Bill that would remember her.
I wrote the story above over a year ago. But couldn't bring myself to publish it at first, I can't say why, perhaps I feel I didn't do the story of Bill and Mary justice, or simply I didn't want to admit I go to McDonald's. But a year on this story has stuck with me, I haven't forgotten about Bill and Mary. I still think of them and wonder if Bill's health has gotten better or if his mind has given way to dementia. About Mary and if she is still able to sit with Bill and talk about what they are having for lunch. I can't say why this story has stayed with me for so long, or even if it will affect anyone else. But I do know I need to share this story, even if it's just to get it out of my system and into the blogosphere.
I think I need to get it out because, personally, I get caught up with the big things. What am I going to do when I graduate? What is my dream job now? Do I have enough friends?
When instead I should just be allowing myself to enjoy the little things. That phone call from grandma, movie night with the family, lunch with the friends I do have.
I'm not saying don't sweat the big stuff, because you should, it's sweat worthy stuff! But you can also enjoy the little stuff at the same time.