Love where you live!
LA MESA -- I grabbed my vanilla yogurt from the dairy case at Trader Joe's just in time to see a little boy scooped up by his mother as they dashed to tell someone where they spied the plush Trader Joe's green monkey hidden not so out of sight. He was so happy. So was she. And right there in the store between the brownies and the orange juice I was overcome. I had to fight to hold back tears. The smell of the grocery store, the little boy's excitement at finding the monkey and the mom's exuberance at his joy carried me back to those days when my kids were little. "You found it!" she said. "I know!!" he answered. Nothing but pure goodness there at Trader Joe's this morning. But there was more...
I pushed my cart out of the store and headed for Kahoots to get some dog food for my dear Ben. As I headed toward the door I saw an elderly man looking at the plants outside Trader Joe's. He had a walker. His wife was nearby with the cart into which he would, with her help, set his fragrant selection before they headed in to do their shopping. And right there outside the store between the shamrocks and the succulents I was overcome. I had, again, to fight to hold back tears. The smell of the flowers in the front of the store and the sight of carts and people coming in and out and the man in his nice slacks and pastel shirt made me think of my dad looking at flowers outside the Vons in years gone by.
Driving my car through the parking lot, I stopped to let two construction guys cross the driveway in front of me. Probably heading for lunch, working up at Grossmont Hospital. They waved thanks. I thought of all the times I have been to that hospital in my life when my mom and dad had occasion to be there. And while I didn't have to fight to hold back tears, I found it arresting how beautiful a day can be under the most incredibly ordinary circumstances; how we are all so similar, so connected by our present and our past and future, and how the sighting of a toy monkey leads to joy not just for the little discoverer but to all who witness his happy find; how the smell of flowers can make your day and how letting someone have the right of way can be the best feeling of the morning.
Simple things. A green monkey by the yogurt. Green growing things. The familiar smell of a grocery store. The sound of an automatic door opening and closing. Simple things that can make you cry. All these wonderful thoughts filled my head as I walked toward my store a while later. Then the startling sound of tires screeching and the horrible noise of cars colliding and people saying "Oh my God!" arrested my attention. Guys from the Village Gym ran to see if they could be of assistance in an accident which looked pretty terrible. And I, again, had to fight to hold back tears because life is beautiful and fragile, and people can be so good and all of it deserves so much more attention than I often give to it...This was my lesson learned on an ordinary Tuesday in the little town of La Mesa, California.
Chris Shea is a LaMesaToday.com contributor and operates Life Sighs, a card shop, on La Mesa Boulevard in La Mesa Village.