I’ve noticed along my journey that sometimes a single, brief comment from someone can greatly impact one’s day.
So it was one of those days when everything seemed to be going wrong. Initially, I had the day all planned out. I was systematically going to get a lot accomplished because I had an outline on a yellow legal pad.
Then came a phone call and a couple of e-mails that factored into my plans and made confetti of that carefully organized schedule. I was a bit ill.
Then I was greeted by an older black gentleman who simply said, “Good morning.”
I returned the greeting and asked how he was doing.
He responded: “I’m doing great. A lot of people didn’t get up this morning.”
Those twelve words fell on me like an avalanche. Buried me in deep thought right there on the sidewalk.
Then he said, “Have a blessed day,” and walked on down the street. It was like he was sent to me by the ghost of Aristotle.
He looked to be a man who had lived long and had learned a lot. And he had boiled it all down into a few simple words that made Dr. Phil seem so long-winded and unnecessary.
His words caused me to take inventory, regroup and get on with my day with greater purpose. No time to dwell on what went wrong. Daylight was wasting.
And indeed he was right. There were about eight obituary notices in our newspaper that morning. Just one newspaper. And there were thousands of newspapers this very day with such listings. And right now I’m still in the game.
This was over a year ago. I’ve never seen the old gentleman again. I don’t know his name. I’m pretty sure he was real. When I said that thing about the ghost of Aristotle, I was just waxing poetically. At least I think that’s what they call it.
Since that day, I have used that expression countless times. It will stick with me forever, however long that might be.
Many people pay therapists lots of money to tell them the same thing over a much longer period of time. Long essays, even books, have been written on the subject of life and its meanings with no greater summation.
In math, I think this observation would be called the lowest common denominator. Or as a man once told me about crawling from the tangled steel of a terrible wreck: He wiped blood from his eyes, touched his scratched and bruised body and proclaimed, “I’m alive!”
Now I’m not saying that the comment from the old gentleman solved all of my problems – or that it solved any of them. It just caused me to put things into perspective. And I’m sure other people have offered similar wisdom or maybe they even uttered those exact words after having run the gauntlet of ups and downs and survived to spread this truth.
Now I basically face each new day with this understanding.
I have been very fortunate to have had great health all my life, which is probably the first and foremost thing we think of as we begin and continue our journeys. The wheels could fall off tomorrow because, after writing and reading thousands of obituaries through the years, I know there are no guarantees. You can eat healthy, exercise, meditate and pray, etc., and still get hit by a truck. But there is this moment and lots of stuff to do.
So now in the spirit of brevity that this greeting was offered me, I will end here with a great appreciation that I got up this morning. As the old gentleman said, “Have a blessed day.”
Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer, and can be reached at 985-4545 or firstname.lastname@example.org.