The older gentleman was using a walker, shuffling to the restaurant door. Once he got there, he looked up and noticed that I was waiting to leave the restaurant. He struggled to pull his walker back so he could open the door to let me out.
"There you go, young lady," he said. I didn't know whether I should thank him more for opening the door or for calling me young lady.
"Thank you so much," I replied. We made eye contact and for a second it felt like we had known each other forever.
Then I tripped over his walker, and the moment was lost. But for that instant, it was heaven.
I admit that I am easily annoyed, which makes me sound hypocritical when I talk about soul stuff. People can chew their gum too loudly in a meeting and I want to throw them down a well. The person who repeatedly says "Anyhoo" makes me want to do bodily harm.
But, when it comes to the depths of the soul, I believe in us. I believe that at the heart of our being, before we are wounded and our personalities are changed dramatically by energy drinks, we are rather amazing.
There are these simple, soul moments that I love.
I have been the parent with a newborn who doesn't sleep and a two-year-old who gets up at 5:30 in the morning energized and ready to go. I remember the day my then-husband came home and found me on the kitchen floor pulling on my own hair, because I had spilled Coke all over the floor that I had finally found time to clean.
But, despite my desire to make my child lick up that Coke, I believe in the moment when your baby finally goes to sleep and you hold him against you and breathe in the same, universal rhythm. In that moment, the stickiness of your shoes from Coke on the kitchen floor becomes what it is -- something to be kicked off and ignored in the face of bigger things.
Then there are moments like the time our youth group helped an older woman clean up her yard, which she had been unable to touch since her husband's death. We went to her house grumbling, the way teenagers do when they have to get up early on a Saturday to do labor. But then we started to clean, and with every item taken away her face lit up a little more.
And when she brought us lemonade at break, shuffling slowly with a pitcher, and told us that we couldn't have given her a greater gift, I found the miracle in that moment. I realized that there are some small actions that matter a great deal to others, and those simple actions can change our lives.
Because, at heart, it's not a moment of fame that will make us happy. It isn't a YouTube video that everybody "likes" that will truly make our life worthy of every breath. And the art of breathing is another miracle that I can't even consider. And I mean that literally.
One night, my husband and I discussed how amazing it is that our brain and body work together to help us breathe, then we both found ourselves focusing on our breath which caused us to stop breathing in a normal rhythm. Soon we looked like fish out of water, gasping for air. So we don't talk about the miracle of breathing anymore, but we know it's there.
I know it sounds sappy, but I think most of us are courageous. Consider how women sacrifice to give birth to another being who will, at some point, make them want to pull their hair out. Consider those who stop at traffic accidents that don't involve them and pull strangers from burning cars.
I even think of the teenage waiter who ran through a parking lot to give my husband the Ray-bans he had left on the restaurant table.
Or the eighty-something couple who told me they'd been married for 60 years yet still held hands and looked at each other with tremendous love. I've been married. Twice. That's a miracle.
Each time I get discouraged about humanity in general, I hear the laughter that rings from us in the most trying, desperate times. The bubbling up of joy that I've heard in those situations is, to me, a reminder that we come from something amazing and wonderful.
So, forgive me if I flip you off in traffic or scream when I can't find my keys or fuss at you because you are chewing way too loud.
Because, deep down, I believe in the amazing part of us.
And I do this despite the constant barrage of stories that reflect our very darkest moments. I think we fixate on those stories like an alien studying a creature that is foreign to him, because those stories don't fit with who we really are.
And as long as we are shocked by the horrible things we do, I think we're okay. Because there are hundreds of thousands of good things being done each day, and if those were revealed we could breathe a little easier.
Uh-oh, I shouldn't have mentioned breathing.
So, mock me all you want. Send me every depressing story you can find. And for every story, I will find a man with a walker who opens the door in spite of his challenges. I will find the story of someone risking their life for a stranger. I won't deny the dark side of life, but I will swing my soul at every windmill.
Because I believe in us.