Watching People at Whole Foods

Shopping at Whole Foods—actually Susie was shopping, making the choices, doing the work– I was wandering, quasi-glazed, staring at stuff and watching people. I observed two individuals with markedly different sets of attitudes.

This one guy—I called him Johnny– was beaming, delighted, eyes outward, observant, soaking in the Whole Foods, smelling the produce, greeting eyes with a smile, empathizing with the sorrows, reached out to assist an older woman with her groceries; cheering up a downtrodden clerk exhausted from the lack of courtesy of rude customers. 

Conversely, this woman—called her Joanna— was scowling and discontent, picking up limes, inspecting each one and putting them back down with annoyance. She looked like she’d calculated her misfortunes, the hurts she’d encountered, the imagined slights of those who’d passed her by–the clerk who’d ignored her (the same clerk who Johnny later cheered up). She took it all personally, deemed them affronts to her under-estimated self worth; and so she walked, the blessings of the day unobserved, her heart untouched by their innate beauty; plodding on, needlessly lonely, missing the overtures of nature and the kind-eyes of the elderly. 

I was projecting, of course. Who knows what was really going on in their lives; but it reminded me: We have options. We can CHOOSE how we observe and respond to life and identify blessings or enumerate stress; we can share kindness. We can choose how we live: in self-obsessed inwardness, calculating our misfortunes, or outward-focused expansiveness, making donations of kindness, light, and love.

—just then my wife gently thwapped me in the back of the head. “Hey you—come back to earth and go get some carrots.”     

“Yes, dear. Where are they located?…”   

She sighed. “Over there,” then whispered,  “next to that grumpy-looking woman.”    


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