I entered a coffee shop on a Tuesday afternoon. It was frigid and the wind outside danced to the tune of New Englands' approaching winter. I search for warmth after my walk to my stool; setting myself under a lamp with a tumbler in tow. The sudden chill of the rotating opening/closing door has me shrink my neck into the scarfs' "nest" shaped cushioning.
I shiver slightly, but reach a neutral contentment as the vent above touches my hair with its warming breeze.
In this moment, gratitude cultivates in its free form. Years of mindfulness have aided in strongly shaping my gratitude practice. Almost everyday, in a variety of ways, gratitude seeps into the little moments – placing the ordinary things into a more extraordinary category. Just writing this, I am grateful for my awareness reaching this point.
Upon waiting for the barista to brew my latte, I looked to “people watch” while killing time. I quickly notice the usual, active coffee chatter; including a group of visibly tired mothers, the rekindling of friendships through frequent embraces and those engrossed in their personal busy work. Today, in particular, I noticed a few people wearing headscarves. Not for fashion or religious purposes, but a result of chemotherapy treatments.
My mind takes a solo trip into my imagination. I never had cancer, and cannot fathom the emotional, physical and detrimental toll it has on those fighting. I look into the faces of those with headscarves. They give a strong awareness to the person they’re speaking to; holding active eye contact and not missing a word of conversation. One of them speaks about her current chemo round; shyly stating she can only ingest small amount of vegetable soup and tea at a time. I examine this women’s face, since her energy politely stole my attention from the others. Through her facial features, you couldn’t help but acknowledge the presence of an eccentric beauty. Her eyes visibly ethereal; showcasing the lightest shade of a softened green. Her bold, loving eyes contrasted well with her perfectly shaped pinkened lips. Watching her speak through them was almost poetic. Her linguistics were gentle, soothing and flowed comfortably through her statements. I imagined her once having thick, curly locks cascading down her back. I envisioned her taking a brush and treating the curls with outmost care; strand by strand as the brush glided in steady waves. Maybe singing a slight tune to herself as the brush worked its own magic. A goddess in her own right, (and in my mind,) she continued to converse to her friend.
According to her verbiage, today was a special because it was her “indulgence” day. The indulgence day, in her words, was when her chemo was not harsh and eating food was not daunting. The waiter brought her “indulgence treat” on a plate – a large, warmed blueberry muffin with an extra side of butter. She looked at it eagerly, and her friend smiled and said;
“Well Deena, here it is! Enjoy!”
She cut the muffin in half and dressed it with butter. Her knife carefully studying and evening the amount on both sides. She was making a point to make this meal a joyful experience. She smiled as she watched the knife dance on her dessert. She lifted the buttered piece slowly, took a small bite and looked up to her friend. Her pinkened lips now dotted with small crumbs. A satisfying smirk crossed her face as she gently squinted her eyes. A silent moan of enjoyment was expressed before speaking.
“Good??” her friend pressed.
“So, SO good! It’s like a spiritual experience, this stupid muffin is causing me, hah! I missed this.” Deena described, taking another quick bite between the joint laughter.
“I would have never described having a muffin as a spiritual experience. But hey, enjoy lady!”
Deena smiled, continued eating and further embraced every bite.
Her actions caused a pause in my thoughts...
Life threatening events always forges gratitude for the little things. Seeing Deena making an experience out of eating, a seemingly small daily task, was humbling. Our health is our wealth, and once it becomes threatened, our world is turned. The little moments taken for granted shape into everyday gifts. A bite of a muffin becomes its own slice of heaven.
In the moment of Deena’s enjoyment, I saw her friend’s eyes well up. A combination of happiness for her friend, but visible fear for the future ahead, spoke words through silent tears. I imagined her friend kneeling to pray before bed that upcoming night, asking God to grant Deena more pleasurable moments with blueberry muffins.
In short, I challenge you to engage in your surroundings. Notice the way people speak, talk and bask in current enjoyments. After, look deeply into yourself. Ask yourself; If my life was threatened with sickness, how would I make the little things into an everyday experience? How would my gratitude for everyday life shift?
For Deena’s sake, I’ll take my blueberry muffins with butter, and an extra side of gratitude.