O is for Outlook and Ordinary Days on the Journey
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
Some days on this journey in France, I want to stay in my pyjamas until noon-there’s only so much beauty and great art a person can cope with! It’s then that I have to give myself a good talking to and remind myself that it important to make the most of each moment, that life is all about engagement -though sometimes small retreats are necessary for reflection. When you decide that your going to have a great day life hears you and responds accordingly so that ordinary days can transform into something special.
Today I’m having an ordinary day, sitting in the sun with the cats, drinking espressos, listening to a French singer while looking out the window of the apartment at a bench over the road where a group of locals have gathered to meet, discuss-something the French love to do-and enjoy the sunlight. Its a simple scene and yet so different to many I’ve witnessed (I love to people watch!) because the two older couples are talking to each other. Slightly turned to meet each other’s gaze, their body language reveals that they’re interested in what each one has to say to the other. One couple really grabs my attention. From the minute they walk up to the bench its clear there’s something different about them. They sit and the man fusses over his companion- is she warm enough? while tucking a rug over her knees. Then he gently puts his arm around her shoulder while her hand searches for his. They’ve probably done this many times before but as an outsider, an observer I’m deeply touched by this simple gesture and feel like crying it’s so sweet. Of course I’m listening to French music but even so. But after a short time he leaves and crosses the road.
What’s going on? He seemed so attentive, interested how could he leave her? The romantic in me is starting to emerge. Yet she seems content, not distressed. The couple next to the woman chat away in their own private space. After some time the woman on her own looks directly across the road and her companion emerges from beneath my apartment block where a newsagent is located. He returns to her with a magazine and in a few minutes their heads touch as they become deeply involved in a crossword puzzle. From time to time they look up, she’ll start talking and he’ll look at her nodding. There’s so much affection in their interaction I feel good just being an indiscreet onlooker. They remain there for hours talking, listening, solving puzzles as I check on the scene from time to time because by now I’m deeply connected to their story. The landscape changes, the people walking past have shifted from older strollers or mum and bubs to workers returning home early. The sun starts to fade as I take a last peek and there they go slowly strolling home arm in arm.
But what is the real story I have witnessed? Were they really an elderly couple who had been married for many years who were still deeply in love? Perhaps it was a new relationship. Perhaps…but wait a minute, my creative imagination is working overtime!
In one sense it doesn’t matter about the facts of their life and relationship, what shines so brightly for me is their love and tenderness towards each other; that and the fact that there was no mobile phone in sight.
Imagine that communication without a mobile!
I felt privileged to have witnessed an ordinary scene that made my day special.