There’s nothing special about today. As usual, I woke up beside my dear husband, with a couple of errands on my schedule and a doctor’s appointment in mid-afternoon. Another task that awaits my attention, time-sensitive, though not critical for today, is to begin the organization of tasks needed to serve my court sentence. That is, to perform thirty hours of community service, which will be serving as volunteer coordinator for our New England Quakers annual session, to be held in Vermont beginning August 6.
I serve with love and with gratitude that I am able to do this needed task. Right now, however, I am feeling the stress of the initial task amid the unknowns. Until Covid, these Sessions were entirely in-person events, with 500-700 attendees from throughout New England. During the past two years, Sessions have been virtual. This year, it will be hybrid, so we have no idea how many will attend in person.
So, this morning, my intention was to identify the myriad of tasks that I must accomplish, as well as the individuals whose help I need. STRESS! To ease my burden, I went to a downtown coffee shop for breakfast. Now, I’ve never been a drug user (other than a few times with pot in the sixties, but that doesn’t count.) I raise this now because my experience of some specific minor events feels like what I imagine drug usage to mimic, a shot of good feeling. I walked into one of our several non-chain coffee shops, Kaffmandu, and immediately saw a friend, Rod, who introduced me to his companion. Rod is a casual acquaintance, perhaps not a real friend; despite that, the brief encounter with him before I ordered my breakfast sandwich and cappuccino provided me with a shot of good feeling. Was it because of mutual respect or because I was reminded of the other events that we’ve shared or simply because connection with another good human being is a jolt of good feeling? I don’t know, but it lifted me.
I ordered and received my breakfast, then sat down at a little table facing the door. I could see a Jeep with Texas plates, then a woman packing the back of it with care, as it was stuffed full. My sandwich was half eaten and my beautiful cappuccino barely sipped, but I stood up and walked outside to her and her vehicle, feeling drawn to meet her and discover the goal of her trip. Driving here from Texas is no small achievement!
Her smile was genuine; she was clearly comfortable in her own skin. I introduced myself and told her that I’d noticed that she was from Texas and was curious about her travel. She didn’t answer me immediately, but asked what I was curious about. I said that I’d traveled a fair amount in a variety of ways, that I loved to travel, and I was curious about where she was going and the purpose.
While we talked, two younger women (in their early twenties, perhaps) joined us, Susan’s daughters who had flown in to spend time with her here. One daughter was particularly interested in Salem. I learned that Susan was combining work and pleasure. Her job? Checking cell phone towers around the country! Who knew that such a job existed?! She mentioned that her son-in-law worked as a drone pilot, checking cell towers for things such as accumulated bird poop. Another job that would not often be someone’s goal, but doesn’t it sound interesting?
Although we only spoke for a few minutes, our conversation gave me a sustained shot of joy, no drugs needed. She’s in this area quarterly, so I invited her to contact me and stay in our upstairs, formerly Airbnb, space. I hope our paths cross again.
I went back to my cappuccino, happy that it had not been cleared. At the window counter sat a young couple, clearly appreciating each other, smiling big smiles. I was tempted to approach them and acknowledge the blessings that surround us, but I contained myself.
It’s not even ten am, and I must move on to my procrastinated tasks. I’ve received enough joy-shots to keep me going.
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