Years ago, when I was facing a difficult time far from my family and support system, a minister said to me, “Bloom where you are planted.”
In fact, we all face our own unique challenges, and oftentimes, we forget that. We snap at the cashier at the grocery store who is moving too slowly because she has just returned to work after surgery. We honk at the teenager stalled at the intersection in front of us because we don’t realize he hasn’t quite adjusted driving a car with a manual transmission. We sometimes get so caught up in our own lives that we forget others are dealing with their own struggles.
On my way to work this morning, I had to make a stop at the grocery store. Of course, I was running late. And it was snowing. I picked up the three items I needed, and I found myself debating which too-long check-out line to pick. Did I mention it was snowing? Because of the weather, the early morning shopping crowd was larger than usual.
I chose a place in the express lane. At one of the check-out counters, an older, somewhat disheveled man was loudly conversing with the cashier. He wasn’t angry, exactly, but he might have seemed so to a passing observer. He was questioning the charges. Each and every one. And as he did so, he was holding up the line.
I turned to survey the shoppers in my line, and I flashed an amused smile at the man directly behind me. He smiled back. “What do you think he was when he was younger?” he asked me.
“Hmm. That’s a tough one,” I responded, turning back to the man. I observed his gesticulation as he opened his wallet and displayed the contents (or lack thereof) to the cashier. She nodded and talked in a manner that was soothing but authoritative.
“School teacher?” he asked.
“No,” I shook my head. “I don’t think so.”
“College professor?” he asked.
“That’s possible,” I responded. “Absent-minded type.”
“Sculptor!” he said, this time definitively.
“Yes! I think that’s it!” Truly, this man could have been just about anything.
“Guess the occupation,” the man then said to me. “It’s a new and amusing way to pass the time in line.”
“Well… that’s all well and good,” I told him. “Until someone looks at me and says, ‘I wonder what she did when she was younger.’” We both laughed.
Sometimes, the best way to handle challenge is through humor. Sometimes, the challenges we face make us stronger, and we are able to bloom more beautifully.