Saturday, June 30, 2012

Living in the Moment: A Tale of Two Lives

In correspondence with a friend last week I was humbled by the words she wrote in response to my last blog.

As I relate what you say to my own life … I am learning to simply accept what is - not always what I'd choose - and move on...continuing to be who I am and learning to approach the future with an open and hopeful heart. This is really necessary for me as I become more and more involved with necessary support for [my family member].
How incredibly poignant that lessons gleaned from a cashiering job can have parallels to that of caring for a loved one living with a chronic and debilitating condition.

As a cashier I, too, have to “simply accept what is” (including my failings) and relentlessly push on. I need to let go of negative encounters, guilt and anger, and to open up, again and again, to the next connection, the next customer. On a busy day I may do this fifteen to twenty times an hour. For me it has been a crash course in living in the moment, finding joy in the present, and not holding onto past regrets.

My friend also wrote of the potential consequences of not opening her heart:Withhout that, I think the undertow of the situation would swamp who I am, and I would become bogged down in depression and despair.

Her words reverberated within me. When I first started this job I could only dwell on how it did not inspire me and was, so I thought, beneath my creativity. Taken on as a financial necessity I saw it only as a means to an end, not as a paving stone to further my career or even a part of my life. As a result I tried to negate this “dirty secret” of mine by keeping it from friends and family and distancing myself from who I was when I was at work. I bemoaned my fate and the countless things I should have, could have been doing. Within the first two weeks, however, I knew that I would have to get over myself or, as my friend said, be overcome in “depression and despair.”

Over the past three months I have worked through (and in some cases am still working through) the embarrassment of having old colleagues and friends come up to my till in surprise: “Jo-Ann! Is that you?” Then there is the challenge of learning (and remembering) new computer pathways through a hormonal daze; the shame of making mistakes in front of strangers whose countenance bear the suffering of yet another imbecile in their presence; and the vanity driven sense of foolishness in wearing a silly looking vest—these are all daily occurrences. Yet so are the heart opening moments when a connection is made, humanity is shared and barriers lifted. Moments when what I do for money is inconsequential compared with whom I am in that instant. Times when our interrelatedness is all there is.

I cannot delineate life as that which begins here and ends there. Regardless of the cliché, every moment is one to be treasured; none found wanting but all rich and full of potential.

These are the lessons I have learned, lessons of life, it seems, regardless of the situation: ringing up a cash sale or caring for a loved one.

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