“Everything is so fast paced now, you must have patience with yourself and those around you.”
Picture yourself in the passenger seat with me as we cruised through suburbia and into a corner shopping center. Radio tuned in as we chilled to our favorite tunes. Yet somehow, the music was silent. How could that be, we heard the volume, but nothing was going into our minds?
It was as if we were on some kind of autopilot, being tugged by intuition towards two figures who were talking in front of a corner Laundromat; and the closer we got, the smaller our musical background became.
We pulled into a parking slip just feet in front of them. Shut down the motor. Music extinguished, the silence grew as two incredibly interesting looking people took hold of our focus. With no pause, our sub-conscience tugged us out of the car and drove us toward them. We shared an interview pitch and quickly we got rejected. Yet even with the rejection, the conversation continued. Smitten by the moment as well as the character of our new acquaintances, it was impossible to let go of our interest. At that point, who cared if we did, or did not, take photographs, these people were intriguing!
To begin, let me introduce you to Antoinette, a very humble lady with thirty years working in education, and the magnet that first caught my eye.
I sighted her as she leaned, child grandson at her side, against the front window of the Laundromat. At first it was uncertain to me how well she knew a rather edgy looking dude standing by her side. He introduced himself as “Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Boal.”
But as I settled into becoming part of their conversation, it rapidly became apparent that I had unintentionally wandered into a chance exchange between two individuals with dramatically different life experience. Captivated by the connection of humanity between them, I was taken in. There was no way I could walk away; they had captured me.
Antoinette was a woman of great compassion, who mostly listening while the three of us were together, later told me of her empathy toward the Lieutenant Colonel (I’ll tell you more about him in the next story).
Have you ever been with people who by only being in their presence make you feel good about yourself? If so, you already have an idea of what spending time with Antoinette was like.
We spoke of faith, patience and the importance of loving others. Something she had learned through her thirty years of working in elementary education. Antoinette exuded a motherly spirit and it was easy to feel her real concern for the people around her. I saw it in the way she treated our Veteran friend Kevin, even comforting him at moments that I was overwhelmed by his stories, sometimes to the point of feeling my blood pressure rise.
I could tell Antoinette was a special soul, a healer of sorts and a person of great faith. An admitted Christian, she explained the source of her character, inspiration and compassion for the world around her. “I’m a believer in Christ, I’m not perfect, but doing my best to be a good person.” She was the kind of person that set a tone worthy of mirroring. I took heed to her example.
I asked her to share her council. Simply, “Everything is so fast paced now, you must have patience with yourself and those around you.”
Truly words I needed to hear, for that night was one in which I was being tested on my ability to endure. Challenged to step to the plate in exercising my skills of empathy and ability to listen. Me, the student, then teacher, then subject, then target. Caught in a triangle of personalities and being directed by two diversely different individuals.
All in all, I spent over two hours communing with Antoinette and Kevin. We talked of many things, Antoinette and I often standing down with much of the conversation being monopolized by Kevin. But, there were no regrets from either Antoinette or myself. He was a fascinating mix of anger, questionable stories and wisdom that seemed to be authentic and hard earned.
The evening was getting late, the Laundromat emptying, it was time to depart, but after spending time with two people from completely opposite ends of the kindness spectrum, I had one profound takeaway: We all have stories, some dark, others not. But in the end–it’s all good!
Talk tomorrow my good friends,
Readers, if you are returning, so nice to be with you again. If you are new, looking forward to getting to know you.
To all: please comment, like, and forward. Every engagement goes a long way toward connecting us; as together, we grow a movement that betters the way we view and treat one another.