The Beauty of Waiting in Line

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I generally run right on time, which leaves little to no room for error and no time for slow drivers or waiting in line. What it does leave time for are life lessons – whether I want them or not.

For instance, a few days ago I was in a hurry to get from one thing to the next – which included a stop at the grocery store. I loathe shopping of any sort – except for books – and grocery shopping is the worst. I wanted and needed to get in and out of the store quickly. I zipped my buggy through the produce department – aptly grabbing the bit of fruit and veg we needed to at least appear health conscious. I took the turn down the cereal aisle, deftly avoiding a dreaded delay created by two weary moms who stopped to chat – mid aisle. My buggy driving ability was nothing short of inspiring – almost NASCAR worthy.

Within thirty minutes, I managed to get everything we needed to survive (including a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup). Then, I made my way to the front of the store. I made a quick study of the lines, found the shortest one, and began my wait – and wait I did.

I started to get impatient (yet another character flaw). Lines I had passed over moved, while mine crawled. Even one of the moms from the cereal aisle checked out faster than me (I swear I think she sneered at me). I strained to look down the line to see what the delay was. I started to gruffly move to another line. Then I discovered the reason; a forty-ish woman with special needs stood to the left of the cashier and bagged groceries.

My need for speed shifted into shame and gratitude. The grocery store where we often shop employs a number of people with special needs. I had forgotten that. I felt like a real jerk. I decided to stay in my line.grocery store

I was forced to slow down – to wait –as this woman meticulously bagged groceries – just as she had been trained. She did a great job. Eventually, after she carefully bagged my groceries, she thanked me for shopping and wished me a good day.

My grocer is doing something profoundly beautiful and redemptive by offering real work – important work – to a number of people in my community who have tremendous gifts to offer. I don’t know their motives (I’m sure there is an economic reason). What I do know is that I got to witness someone putting their best effort in simply putting my groceries in a bag.

Now, if I can just get these folks around here to drive a bit faster…

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Changing

Changing

Amid all the seasonal hoopla there is a small, but growing, theme that is emerging. It, like all the other seasonal appeals, happens every year. Turn on a radio and listen for a few minutes and you’ll hear an ad for a gym, new diet, or supplement that will “dramatically change your life in 2014.” Change is in the air – perhaps.

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The truth of the matter is that change isn’t easy and most people really do not want it. Evidence for that is the fact that every year we hear the same message and we make similar resolutions. In fact one study showed that 90% of people that went through coronary by-pass did not change their behavior but went back to the same habits that WH Audenwere killing them. W.H. Auden had a point; he said people would rather face ruin than change.

Change of any kind takes sacrifice, commitment, and desire. It also requires people to deal with pain (related to loss of something), fear, conflict, and a willingness to disappoint people (when you no longer go out for a smoke or order a salad instead of a burger). But change is necessary in all of our lives – nothing stays the same. It is a sad thing to say to someone, “You haven’t changed a bit.” Quotes_about_Change_QuotesAboutChange02

A few days ago a friend of mine related an experience. During a leadership conference he was asked a question that has stayed with him. The question was simply, “What will happen if you do not change?”

Think of that question for a moment. What will happen if you do not change your bad habits? What will happen if you do not start taking better care of yourself? What will happen if you do not start doing a better job at work? What will happen if you do not start moving toward your spouse – loving him/her better? What will happen if you do not forgive?

Just asking the question is a step in the right direction. Honest reflection is important but it isn’t enough to just be self-aware. We need to be “self-active” as well.  Put those two things together and real, significant, life long changes can occur – way more than a new diet or gym membership.

???????????????????One tip that I think may prove helpful in not only answering the question but also making change is found in the word tweak. In a recent NPR: TED Radio Hour,Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, said, “Small tweaks can lead to big change.” If you are so inclined to try and answer the question, “what will happen if I do not change?” then you may want to think about making small tweaks as you wrestle thru the beneficial, but also tough parts, of making significant changes to your life.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!