Joy in the little pictures (the snapshots of life)…

In a world where shootings are random and far too common place, one cannot help wondering if there is any hope for human kind to change and better the world we share.  After reading about the Batman massacre and feeling a sense of deja vous in the details of this story, I am feeling a bit helpless that this space in which we live, our shared earth which we co-inhabit alongside fellow citizens, plants and animals, is on a downward spiral toward chaos and moral disintegration.  And indeed, when looking at the bigger picture, that provided by the outlook of the media and other watchdogs in society, the picture looks grim.  It appears that we are living in perilous times.

However, the bigger picture is always the most daunting, that which overwhelms the spirit and the soul.  And this proves true whether you are looking for the positives in life or the negatives.  My husband and I have recently adopted the mantra, ‘one day at a time,’ albeit cliché, it is also certainly a most practical outlook on life.  We can only do with what we have, and at the present, we have only today.  More specifically, we have only this moment.  So, it is the small things that really count.  The small pictures or snapshots of life.   And within these smaller pictures of the here and now, one can find glimpses into the heart of people, and for those who believe, into the heart of God.  A tender touch, a kiss, a warm embrace, a kind word, a thoughtful gesture, a second glance.  Kindness.  Small graces.  It’s the little things.  All are small, but mighty ways to change the world of one.  And in due time, perhaps bring change for the hearts of many.

All this turning over of ideas and mulling of reflections and ideas about pictures, both big and small, has turned my thoughts toward success.  And what is the truth behind that word, success?    The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same. (Colin R. Davis).  So then, it is the choices we make that determine the outcome.  The choice is what allows for the success.  A life well lived, whether that be on a humble scale or a more grandiose scale of a life afforded great opportunity, is what many would describe as true success.  And the opposite would also be true- a life lived despicably, whether that be on a smaller scale or again on a more grandiose scale as we have read in the newsfeed even this past week, can be a life of failure.  We were designed to be successful- to live well, know much, love deep, think broad.  But it is our choices that determine the outcome.

I love when people choose to be polite.  It gives me a glimpse into their heart, and it assures me that there is still goodness in this world.  We are camping for the month at a KOA Cornwall, P.E.I., and for the most part, the staff have been really friendly and welcoming.  The other day, I drove up to the washrooms early in the morning to have a shower, and I pulled in our van to park by the washrooms.  When I did so, it just so happened that I drove our vehicle in front of a tractor driven by a KOA staff member.  I purposely did not park on the pavement where the parking lot is located because to do so would have been to block this tractor in.  Instead, I pulled in front of the tractor and parked off the road on the grass directly in front of the washroom.  When I had turned off the ignition, and opened the door, the man on the tractor hollered loudly to me from his perch behind the wheel, “The parking lots over here, ma’am.”  I immediately apologised, got into my vehicle, waited for him to pull across, and then parked in the spot where I would have originally parked had he not been blocking my path.

How this incident made me feel.  A little bit embarrassed- because other people heard and saw the exchange.  A little bit annoyed that he had not said it in a way that might have been more kind and polite- perhaps beginning this request with the word please.  And, a little frustrated that the whole thing had occurred because I had allowed him the right of way.  Nevertheless, it was my choice to politely say, “Oh, I’m sorry,” in as nice a voice as I could muster, and then proceed to right my wrong.  But I could not quite help the feeling I was experiencing- that being, a little bit of my joy had been snatched away.  And at the first of the day, for that matter.  Sometimes the whole day can be affected by a first encounter of the worst kind.

In direct contrast to this particular employee is another KOA employee.  Actually, there are many others in contrast because this is a great campground with excellent staff on the whole.  But, there is this one teenager who drives the golf cart around and checks up on all the campers.   A maintenance man, he is the friendliest, happiest worker on the premises.  He will drive by and wave, and if he hasn’t quite caught your eye, he will turn and look back at you and then wave again just so that you see his friendly salute.  Accompanying the waves are large, joyful smiles.  He is just plain adorable.  And he waves at everyone and anyone regardless of how many times he might have waved at you already that day.  He is quite simply a joy-spender.  He spends joy freely and unabashedly on others.

And he is truly a helpful guy.  A camper pulled in next to us the day before yesterday, and their awning was not able to unfold because of a tree branch that was in the way.  So, this guy got up on top of their very high camper and proceeded to cut off the offending tree branch, all in the good will that the campers might be able to have the most enjoyable experience possible while on the KOA premises.  I have to say…I love people like this guy.  He is certainly confirmation that there are good people out there to be found.

And it is the joy-spenders of life that I focus on when the bigger picture of life seems out of whack.  Because we can fall into the false mindset, when bad things happen on a large scale, that all is bad and perhaps even people are bad.  And we can become convinced that the world is falling apart.  And indeed, society has suffered a blow, as it does every time a life is taken or a life is lost.  Life is precious, and it the very fact that we see life as precious that causes us to be alarmed and disgusted by these horrendous acts.  But everyday life is also precious- the life in which we matter-of-factly go about our business and carry through our daily routines.  That life is precious too.  And those everyday people who choose to take joy from others and those who choose to bestow it lavishly on the ones they encounter are the real game players.  They are the ones that matter for most of us.

Which has convinced me of this very thing: that the game of life is played every bit as much successfully by the players that fall below the radar- the ordinary people like you and I.  These are the ones that define success for the world at large, for we are the status quo and we can be the ones that make the biggest impact.  Because one life spent investing in the commodity of joy is worth a thousand of those who choose to take it.  And we should celebrate the successes every bit as much as we give airplay to those horrendous acts of horror.