There was a particular day when I was practicing law full-time which was filled with one court appearance after another. It was a busy, fast paced day where the best that I could do for lunch was a hot dog from the vendor on the sidewalk in front of the courthouse. In the middle of running from one courthouse to another and thinking continually about either what just happened or what was about to happen, I stopped to get lunch.
The lady working the hot dog stand had a look of weariness from trying to make life work when answering my inquiry about how her business was these days. She replied that it has been really hard lately. She said that she is just trying to get by and offered no hint that there was a marketing plan or sales strategy she found to be realistic when considering how to turn the financial corner.
Not too long after she was honest with me about her lack of fortune, she asked me if I was a lawyer (it’s the tie that gives it away) and how my business is. Here’s the thing about her question; she seemed to really care about my business and wanted to hear my answer. She shifted with ease from the reality of her plight into empathy for mine. Through the exchange, we each offered a few encouragements and she finished with “God Bless.”
I walked up to that hot dog stand pre-occupied with things that I was thinking about that mattered not only to me but to others. Here’s the thing, though; the things that I was thinking about were either in the past or the future by thirty minutes or more each way. What was in the moment was the hot dog lady.
The honest interaction and insight into the world of someone else who cared enough to ask and encourage me sent me walking away enjoying the residue of peace. Peace only comes in the moment, not in the memory and not in the possibilities. It’s only available now and we can either let it land or wave it off. Our engagement from one moment to the next can connect us to the human condition through other humans and we can know the peace that comes with contentment only available for a particular moment. Or not.