Following up from yesterday’s post, I had this really great moment at the passport office today. I was dropping applications for two of my kids and my wife. It’s easy enough for me to bike down from work over lunch, so it’s a good job for me.
So I got up to the “triage” window to get my number and I found out that I need to actually have my kids’ birth certificates with me. It’s not enough for me to fill in the registration numbers on the application form – they actually need to verify that the documents are real. What’s up with that?!
So I was done there with my applications having biked down and even if I couldn’t complete my kids’ applications I could still complete my wife’s application. It was very frustrating. But I took the number and sat down. I knew that the smart thing to do would be to leave and come back tomorrow rather than wait for however long on both days, but it’s hard for me to let go. I came down there to wait, and it’s hard just to leave. Maybe it would be worthwhile to submit at least one application.
So, it took me about five minutes watching the numbers tick down to come to terms with the situation and I got up to leave. Why wait twice? But I couldn’t help but imagine the scene when my number came up and everyone would look around and wonder where C312 had gotten to? I wonder how long they wait before they move on? It seemed like it would be a waste of somebody’s time even if it was only thirty seconds, so I thought I would let the guy who gives out the numbers know that I was leaving. It seemed like a thoughtful thing to do.
But when I told him I was leaving, he said to me, “Don’t do that. If you go up and submit your one application, the clerk will give you a piece of paper that can get you past the line tomorrow.”
What?! Who knew?
How great is that? So I waited for my number to come and completed the one application and got my golden ticket for my other two and I was on my way. It was like this little gift. It was just like what I was talking about yesterday. Instead of leaving with a dark cloud and having to wait for however many minutes tomorrow, I left feeling light and happy with a ticket to go to the front of the line tomorrow.
It’s the small things. Somehow it’s the small things that carry the day. They really don’t affect the course of your life but they bring a little sunshine along the way and it can get you from A to B with a smile. I’m not sure how that works when a person is in the midst of a seriously devastating situation. I guess I’m wondering if there are states of mind where these little gifts have no impact. I would suppose that there would be a sorrow or a grief that would be so raw that nothing could touch it, but I also know that there can be laughter in the midst of tears.
I was aware yesterday that I felt a little bit like I might be inferring that all can be solved by simply learning to appreciate the little gifts in life. But I know that this isn’t true. If there is a stone in my shoe, I do not solve this problem by appreciating the loonie (Canadian dollar coin) I find on the sidewalk. I take the stone out of my shoe. But if the pain in my feet is a chronic ailment that cannot be easily fixed in a moment, then finding that loonie can bring some joy to a moment. It brings a moment of a light into whatever the status quo might be.
Maybe that’s the key – maybe it’s about status quo – whether status quo is opulent abundance or meager scarcity, there’s a level to which our mood or our sense of well-being depends on the ups and downs of our current moment to moment existence.
So if we can learn to see all those moments of grace – those ordinary gifts, then our sense of happiness increases. There really is an element of vision to how we do this. We live our lives from moment to moment – doing our best to fulfill our goals, to do our work, to improve our situation, to take care of ourselves and those in our care – whatever it might be, we go through our days doing the things that we must do, and as we do, the way that we observe the flow makes all the difference to how we experience it all.
It’s not an easy thing to do. The ordinary gifts can be few and far between some days. We can find ourselves walking through a barren landscape some days. I’ll have to see how I do when it comes to one of those days. Whenever that might come, I’m just glad that for today I was able to leave that passport office with a smile today.