I've been thinking a lot lately about human connection. About how COVID has literally torn some relationships apart... and brought some relationships much closer together. There's been a TON of breakups and divorces and friendships lost and life ended... and there's also been a ton of family bonding and strengthening of friendships and Facetime calls to people far away. It's been this dichotomy of two worlds. I spent my Saturday running a lot of errands in Wenatchee. Errands in general are never the most fun for me, so I tend to keep my head down and just get it done. This time, however, seemed to take a different tune. It all started at Chipotle. I walked in to get lunch and I was the only one there. No one in line, no one at the tables. When I was asked "for here or to go," it felt strange to say "here," with no one else in sight. So, I chose to go and I admit I ate my lunch in my car in the parking lot at Target. These are the pandemic times.
I proceeded to do my thing and then arrived at our pet store. I bee lined to the back, hoping not to make eye contact with anyone and just get in and get out. This gosh darn COVID stuff- I'm tense and guarded without the energy of a pandemic behind me. A very nice man (I believe he's the owner) stopped me. "What do you need?" The dreaded question. Nothing. I'm fine. I can do this myself. Leave me alone. all variants of what I would have liked to say. "Oh, just dog food, just turning the corner to keep social distancing," I said, hoping that would be the end of it. "Wait," he said. "Come with me." I followed him around the corner and he pointed to three 8 week old kittens sitting behind the glass. My heart melted. I'm a sucker for animals. And just like that... connection. Talking about my allergies... how some people switched their kitty food and found they were no longer allergic (I told him not to tempt me... if I could I'd have like, 5 cats), and how much we love our pets. I softened. I eased up. I smiled. and the whole visit shifted. "Right," I reminded myself." Social distancing doesn't have to mean being anti social. I left the store with a spring in my step and a new outlook on the world. All from one interaction with a nice man.
I remember the same thing happened a few weeks ago at Trader Joes. The line was out the door, because, social distancing requirements, and I could tell everybody was frustrated. At the front of the line was, in my opinion, an overly cheerful man trying to get people to ease up. My first instinct was to roll my eyes. Here'es the thing though... kindness and joy... they're contagious. You can't help but fall into it unless you try really really hard not to. I gave into him too. I let him tell my cheesy jokes and make me smile. It sure beat staying grumpy in a long line for groceries.
These two men reminded me of the power of human connection... and that it is still very much possible and very much alive during this time. Joy and laughter and friendship and connecting with other humans is still available to us, always. We just have to open our eyes and our hearts to it.
With eyes wide open,