Saturday, 14 February 2009

Counting blessings

This Valentine's Day has been a weird one for me, it's not a day that has ever bothered me before, but it's hard for it not to when you're working in a store that has dedicated half of a floor to red-hearted sappy junk for loved up couples too caught up in the commercialism of the day to realise they're being swindled out of money that would be far better spent elsewhere, at the very least on something more romantic and worth it than a heart-shaped set of measuring cups. (I ask you, what difference is that going to make to any day!) I feel like a Valentine's Scrooge. It's probably sour grapes as I watch the massive queue of people inch their way forward, taking it in turns to buy cards and gifts declaring their adoration for their significant other.

So I've been standing around at work all week feeling rather sorry for myself having no one to buy anything for me. But this weekend I've had a series of encounters that has made me change my mind about my self-pitying. I've spent so long in these last couple days talking to people who have no one else to talk to.

One of London's dreadfully many homeless people came up to my floor yesterday and was looking at the £40+ pens that he obviously couldn't afford, but asking about details and prices, saying he would come back and buy them later on. I ignored two of my managers buzzing around the floor behind him, obviously wondering what he was doing there, and showed him anything he liked and discussed the pens with him, then solid gold pens from World War II that he used to have, which all led into unexpected topics such as comparative religion, karma and the idea of trusting the universe to do what's right rather than trying to revenge yourself against people, loving everyone - even those who have done you harm, infusing pens with power that would feed through into your writing. It was a fascinating and bizarrely intense conversation. Finally, after about 20 minutes of this he stepped away, said, "I salute you young lady," wished me peace, and was gone.

I must have looked dazed because one of the girls asked if I was okay, and asked a couple times what he'd been talking about (he'd lowered his voice anytime anyone else came nearby), I just laughed and said something about pens and the war.. I don't think she would have got it if I tried to explain.

Then today I had two different people stop to have conversations with me, both of whom were obviously talking just for the sake of having a conversation. One even said almost that. The first guy was browsing, and then started a conversation about a mirror, then about eye-tests, then Kennedy and Kennedy's grandfather, and the war... and so on and on. For ages. I went to serve another customer and when she left he started talking again exactly where he left off. According to one of the guys on my floor he's been in the store every day for the past two weeks just talking to people.

The second guy was in the park when I was having lunch with my mum, I was stressing over my dissertation and was a little.. distraught. He came over to check all was okay, then stayed around to talk about my uni, tutors, the homeless people in the area, and about "his" park and how it is going to be lovely when spring comes and the wisteria blooms, and about the war (a reoccurring theme it seems) and how they were evacuated from London as kids, and how many kids lost track of their parents. He told me to be glad I have someone like my mum around because he has no one.

I don't know what my point in writing all this has been. I guess I'm still processing, and words are my way of doing that. All of these encounters one after another, following on from my forced re-evaluating of my value system earlier this week, have left me a little... shaken I guess. I suppose, in a way, it's the logical continuation of the re-evaluation system. First my value of possessions is called into question, then the very big value of the people I love and who love me is brought into focus. Along with the importance of living your life in a way that you can be proud of, living for more than just yourself.

Anyway, like I began to say at the start of this ramble. Instead of feeling sorry for myself I began to see the things that I actually have in my life. I have so much to be grateful for and I need to learn to recognise that before getting all upset about the things I think I'm lacking. That's my lesson for this weekend.


Ginaagain said...

Evie, this is such a beautiful post. Your lovely spirit must just shine and attract people to you. Maybe not the kind of attraction that brings sappy cards and mediocre chocolate in heart shaped boxes but something deeper.

Evie.E said...

Thank you very very much for your words. I'd say something more than just thanks, but my words are twisting and making no sense right now, so I'll have to settle for a simple thank you *hug* xx