It matters how you treat people.
It matters how you live your life, how you do your job, treat your friends, speak to your kids, care for your animals. It matters. And it matters that you infuse love into what you do, through each and every seemingly small moment of the day. Even if those moments are organized into minuscule, five minute increments. As small and insignificant as that portion of time might seem.
And yet. Five minutes can be long enough to make a mess of things.
Lately, I have been living my life either five minutes ahead or five minutes behind where I ought to be. It’s like I am either rushing too fast or moving too slow. In all, I am not thinking/living in the moment like I feel I should be. That is, if I was to be ‘living up to’ my best, ideal vision of myself. That ideal I hold so dear. And when I sat down to really contemplate this thought, I came up with eight random things I wished I had known about, five minutes before/after they happened.
1. That bag of dirty laundry that I left behind at my lovely friend’s house in N.J. (while traveling during Spring Break)- wish I had known it was sitting there in her man cave five minutes before we left (instead of ten hours later). #nicepartinggift
2. That curb that I sideswiped while backing out of my sister-in-law’s driveway (causing Husband to curl up into the fetal position)- wish I had thought about it five minutes before getting behind the wheel. #soyouthinkyoucandrive
3. Those three fish tacos I ate recently at the Ground Round- wish I had purused the menu five minutes longer before deciding what I was going to eat that particular night. #intestinalgrief
4. That one hour trampoline privilege (Sky High, N.C.) that I paid a left leg for- wish I could have traded it in for Twinkies five minutes after I started jumping (like my life depended on it).
5. And while on that thought… regarding the one hour trampoline privilege that I recently paid a left leg for- wish I had a catheter inserted because five minutes after I started jumping (like an Olympic gymnast on steroids), I was making like a crazed woman for the lady’s room.
6. That email that I was recently trying to save- and all those pictures and other important stuff that seemed so NECESSARY at the time- wish I had remembered that PURGE means GONE FOREVER about five minutes before cleaning up my email queue.
7. But then too. Those beautiful children that I mama-bear growl at, for various reasons or another, and whom I rush along and nag– sometimes I wish I could just remember- five minutes before those words and frustrations pour out of my mouth- that these are just moments in an otherwise beautiful life. They are not worth getting in a blathering dither over.
8. And this one. Ouch. This one hurts my ego a little. That conversation I had with my mom recently- that one during which I proceeded to unload all my petty little troubles- wish I had been able to go back five minutes in time to the moment before she proceeded to tell me about a very tragic loss that had occurred in her life when I was away on my trip. While I was going on and on and on about my bladder troubles and other petty little worries.
Sometimes five minutes is all we need to put life into perspective.
Five minutes is enough to show me how beautiful my life can truly be. How beautiful it truly is. If only I am willing to stop and take the time to see the beauty in the moment.
Want to hear five of the best minutes of a day in my life recently? It was without a doubt, when I went to a small grocery store in the town of Cornwall, P.E.I., Canada. Not an event I would usually connect with morphing into daily high points, but that day it was. The cashier: she was friendly, pleasant, affable. I could hear in her voice, as she talked, that she just genuinely liked people. Liked her job. She called me ‘hun’ three times. And while that normally wouldn’t rub me the right way, that day those words seemed almost soothing.
“Anything else I can get you hun?” she said smiling. Then later…
“Are you paying for that with debit or credit, hun?”
“Thanks, hun. Have a nice day!”
And maybe it was her smile. Maybe it was the respectful way she talked to the meat manager as he brought up a box of seafood to be priced. Quite possibly it could have even been the combined effect of both she and her colleague in the cash right next to her, a woman whom the older gentleman in line after me greeted her warmly with, “Ah Lyndsay! This makes my day just to see you here!”
And with all that love, it isn’t too far-fetched to surmise that this little grocery store is a good place to work. A good place to BE. It exudes an atmosphere in which love is valued. In which small moments are valued. For you can feel love palpably. People in this store genuinely seem to like being here, and perhaps the reason is because they just feel like they’re with friends.
It’s that kind of store.
And I couldn’t help but think of that well-touted line, ‘whatever you’ve been given to do, do it well’, in reference to these two women and their ethic of care towards their customers. Because they weren’t just delivering a service that day: they were offering love. Five minutes at a time, and in the process, the whole ordeal had the effect of moving me in a very profound, emotional way. I really felt touched by the kindness I observed and experienced. And I can only hope to live up to that high ideal as I also go about my life’s work, inside my own home, workplace and classroom, living with and teaching the little and big people I’ve been called to learn alongside.
What a great inspiration it is to watch people doing what they love to do and seeing them doing it well.
Because really, when it comes down to it: we’re just people living our lives, five minutes at a time.
Five minutes: it’s all we need to put everything else in our messy, beautiful lives into perspective. Because that’s what this is all about- the messy in our lives is really the beautiful. And if I was really being honest, it’s not about five minutes before or five minutes later- it’s really about living out both the frustrating five and the pleasurable five in life- at one and the same time. Does this mean we cannot talk about the small stuff- the random things we wish we could do-over? Of course not. In talking about them, in VENTING at times, we realize that they are just small moments that comprise a bigger life. In validating our small moments- and learning to laugh at them, we come to appreciate the bigger picture that much more.
And in the process, we realize- life is full of moments that we live.
Five at a time.
This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!