I heard this story from a friend last week. She was walking into her local co-op and there was a homeless woman out front. Like she usually does when she sees someone who needs food, she bought some for this woman. This time, since she was buying a sandwich for herself, she bought a sandwich for the woman outside.
She offered the sandwich to the woman as she was leaving and the woman said, “No thank you, I’m gluten free.”
Pause a moment here….
I know. I went through the same thought process before I kindly removed my foot from my brain and really thought about this.
I asked my friend if the woman was asking for food? And she said no. She was just out front, but my friend wanted to help.
I kept processing this for a few days. And I kept coming back to the same saying that wouldn’t let go…beggars can’t be choosers.
But something didn’t sit quite right. There was something about this story that kept eating at me (no pun intended…ok, maybe a little tiny pun.)
And then I went to a community theater project with my partner on Friday night and when it was over he asked if I wanted to grab a beer and a bite at a bar across the street.
Here is where the Ah-Ha begins to form.
I didn’t. I really didn’t. In fact, I would have rather gone home and stared at a wall in silence. (Bad example, I actually love staring in silence at walls…but you get my point.)
What I wanted to do was go to a coffee shop and talk about all the plays we had just seen. Maybe create our own on napkins.
So he says “do you want to go across the street to the bar” and I’m thinking (NO!!!!!) and I say….wait for it. Sure.
Blogging lets you just lay all your shit out there in hopes others can vibe with it, and I have a feeling I’m not alone on this one.
I didn’t even suggest what I really wanted to do. Nor did I pause, really.
I just said, “sure.”
So here’s what we have here…A woman who may potentially NOT eat that day is offered a sandwich which may make her sick (let’s assume…there’s that concept again.) but she could have taken the stuff off the bread and had a guaranteed meal. And she has the faith/confidence/presence of mind/resolution/clarity/chutzpah to say what she needs.
And we also have a woman with a roof over her head, enough money to buy her own food, a bit of stability in life (but let’s face it, I’m not exactly where I thought I’d be by 40…) and can’t open her mouth to say, No Thanks, when the world is her oyster.
To finish up this example, I did bring this up later to my partner, and he wouldn’t have wanted to do what I suggested, but he would have countered with going bowling…which it turns out…we both would have loved.
All this talk about giving and receiving. All these self help books. All the endless hours with therapists, and where does it get us?
There is a switch somewhere inside. One that says our thoughts have values. Our needs are real. And I don’t suggest that I know how to turn that on, but my friends story was just the jolt I needed to hold a mirror up to the life I’m leading.
Am I going to slip again, of course. I’m stubborn and I’m human. But I have heard a story I will not soon forget, one that will inform me and help me to become more in line with the human I want to be.
Where have you been accepting the Status Quo in your life? Where have you just said “Sure” when what you meant was, “No thanks.” or maybe even, “How about this instead?”
I really wish I could find this woman and tell her Thank You. Ask her what I can get for her, if even anything. Make sure it’s something that will make her life better without assuming I know what that is.