Brief But Not Minor

Yesterday, it was the couple across from me at breakfast, the woman ahead of me at 7-11, the shoeless boy I passed on his bike headed towards the ocean.

Each was a minor character in my Tuesday. They were not who I came to see.

But then I think that to these very individuals, I am nothing more than the woman at breakfast, the woman behind me at 7-11 (if she even knew I was there), the woman who passed me at the crosswalk. I am inconsequential.

It’s harder hitting when it’s in the first person, isn’t it?

The writer Patricia Hempl asks, What if these bit players were the very ones we were meant to meet?

To swim out deeper into that, what if they are an antidote to our hurt or the conduit to insight? What if they are who we wouldn’t have known to ask for and are the very thing we need?

It changes how we think of that fellow parking beside us or that kid eating a fudgsicle. They matter more now.

Today, I ask the waitress about herself. I appreciate, so appreciate the man on the boardwalk singing the song in his headphones and pumping his right fist in the air.

In these encounters - though they are so short, you could hardly call them that - I am aiming myself towards an awareness, an understanding, or maybe it’s a grace, that goes something like this:

Our moment together, perhaps the only one we will ever share, may be brief, but it need not be minor.

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