As I was pricking yams, I thought about Megan who gave me the simplest no-fail recipe for baking sweet potatoes. That led me to remembering Sheree's tip for mixing natural peanut butter so I wouldn't have to blend the cream and the oil together every time I wanted a sandwich. I remembered being convinced of my desire to raise chickens when Aubrey gave me an egg from one of her chickens. The flavor changed my paradigm about eggs.
A flash flood of contributors to the book of my life washed through my mind:
- Carrie and Melissa who influenced how I shop,
- Amy who gave me the tools to release pain,
- my dad who introduced me to millionaire minds,
- Diane who opened the gate to organized personal finance,
- Lindsey who served as a mirror to myself,
- my mom who inspired in me the quest for forgiving,
- Lisa who reminded me to keep dreaming,
- Polly who exemplified service as fun and timeless,
- Casey who showed me to love first, ask questions later,
- Judy who demonstrated faith in a lone young woman,
My entire existence has been shaped by every single person who walked onto my path (or did I walk onto theirs?), some for a brief moment, others lingered longer. The length of our time together is irrelevant. I became and will continue evolving as a weaving of many lives, who I am sure are also a blend of yet other lives. Though we suffer temporary amnesia, we are still one energy, showing up in my biggest decisions but also in my everyday routines of cooking, keeping house, writing, and thinking. When confronted, each person would likely protest their significance, glossing over their inherent value and oftentimes unconscious contributions.
Every so often, I will remember a particular woman whose name I do not recall. I am not sure I ever heard it. I met her in her home after being dragged there for an event I had no desire to attend. The old house was cluttered with bags and large plastic storage containers, so full leaving only narrow pathways to get from one room to another. I felt clustrophobic and wanted to go home. As the only other female in the house, she initiated conversation with me; I was polite but uninterested. I had decided I was better than her and there was nothing I could learn from someone whose life was so obviously out of control.
And then, I saw her folding grocery bags.
Back home, all of my leftover grocery bags took up room under my kitchen sink, constantly falling out onto the floor every time I opened the cabinet.
"How do you do that?" I asked, suddenly interested. She smiled and taught me where to fold, where to roll, and where to tie the plastic so as to make each bag into a neat little package. She was so kind and patient. I learned then that everyone has something of value to offer. Sometimes, the offerings are intentional, but most often, the contributions are made, seemingly, by mere coincidence and with little consequence, but always, they create a wrinkle in the place where memories are held.
Today, I fold my grocery bags and suspend judgment like I do because of a woman whose name I will not remember. Twelve years ago, I spent with her only an hour, but she left an imprint in my existence for the eternities.
Just as you have.