Recently, I started patronizing a Second Cup (like Starbucks) near my home because I like the coffee drinks more there. Most of the time, I get the same barista. I always ask her how she’s doing and her answer is always, “Fab-u-lous!” in this British Caribbean accent. She draws out the “fab” part and shakes her short curly hair out of her eyes, almost poses like a supermodel and flashes an impish smile. This is her standard answer to everyone, I’ve noticed, and everyone walks away from her with a smile on his or her face, along with their coffee. She is one of those wonderful people who welcome the world.
It’s amazing to see how people relate to her. One simple word, one flip of the hair and one smile and she has you. Yes, it is part of her schtick, part of how she deals with the world, but it’s very effective. I don’t think anyone walks away without tipping. I don’t think anyone walks away without smiling at the woman. And isn’t it nice to have someone smile at you whenever you walk in? And isn’t it nice to have someone walk away from you with a smile on their face?
Such a simple thing makes a big difference.
Growing up, it was understood in my family that I would be some kind of professional something. I would get a meaningful university education and go on to do challenging, thought-provoking work. No doubt being paid more than a barista, at any rate. But who is better off? Someone who greets people and makes them smile and feel good about themselves, or someone involved in "serious work" who can’t smile because they’re too miserably aware of all their pressures and deadlines. Working 70 hours or more a week. No time, no energy to actually live a life. As opposed to someone working a less stressful job, not expected to continually hit efficiency benchmarks and baselines for performance —just show up at work, do your job, go home and live an actual life. Make people happy. Make yourself happy. Don’t drive yourself crazy.
Maybe it’s better to be a regular person. My barista has learned or instinctively knew that stressing yourself out only leads to an early death even before you hit the grave. I have a streak of curiosity a mile wide. This curiosity seems to necessitate me having to try everything, examine everything, analyze everything to freaking death. I’ll tell you, it’s a pain in the ass.
I often ask myself why isn’t anything just straightforward and simple. The most obvious answer is because I’m not straightforward and simple – my world reflects who I am, just as your world reflects who you are. In this barista’s world, she is fab-u-lous. And she is. That is what the world reflects back to her. What the world reflects back to me is different—a torturous rat’s nest of ups and downs is what I’m getting from this mirror of life. The next logical question is, how can I change this? To which I have no answer. Everyone talks about simplifying their lives, minimizing the junk they’ve accumulated over a lifetime. I have donated probably in the range of 600 books now that were formerly cluttering up my bookshelves. I’ve weeded out my kitchen and my closets, trying to get rid of the stuff cluttering up my life. I don’t need more stuff in my life, I need more life in my life.
Those of you who have been following my blog posts for a while know that I divorced last year. It’s taken me some time to figure out what and who the hell I am since leaving. I’ve had to do a lot of work to heal from that disastrous, hell-bound mistake. A lot of work to trust my judgment again. And it’s coming, slowly. I’m listening to my emotions, instead of only my logic. Pure logic has not served me well. And perhaps I went a little overboard on the emotional side of things at first. But I think I had my emotions buttoned-down and suppressed for so long, that when I finally gave myself permission to feel what I was feeling, I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of emotions. I thought I’d drown in my emotions but instead washed up on the shore of my new life, like so much flotsam and jetsam. My life—the undiscovered country. I was Christopher-freaking-Columbus and had just escaped the savage sea.
So, I have this opportunity to re-create my life better than it was before. Like the Six Million Dollar Man but without the super abilities. Things have changed to the more positive for me. Maybe a little older. Hopefully a lot wiser. And maybe, just maybe, I can be "fab-u-lous, darling", too. I think I’d like that. :)