I have been thinking about perspective for some time now.
It started when I went to order a new pair of glasses. It was the most ridiculous purchase ever – I already had a perfectly acceptable pair that I just didn’t like. I was out shopping with E, who needed a new pair, and while I was waiting for him, I tried on a pair of frames. I fell instantly in love.
I thought about it for a few days and when I still just couldn’t quit thinking about them, I knew I had to have them. That’s my qualifier for any really selfish purchase…. IF I have the money and IF I still want them after walking away for a few days, I know it’s not a purchase I will regret. So I tapped into my private rainy-day-slush fund (ok, so tapped isn’t quite right, depleted might be a more accurate choice) and bought them for myself.
I waited and waited and waited for them to come in. It was going on the far end of the 7-10 business days the optical shop promised and I kept checking my phone… did they call yet? No? Ok. Thirty minutes later… did I miss a call? It was ridiculous. I knew it was ridiculous! But I was soooo excited for these glasses to come in. These glasses were going to be SO AMAZING and so cute and make me feel so happy!
I walked down to the cafeteria to get some lunch and I heard a voice call out my name. As I turned in response, I recognized that voice and inwardly sighed a bit. It was a woman I had worked with a year or two ago who had had cancer. She and I had gotten through all the employment-related mess that treatments and absences bring. Now, after all was said and done, whenever I saw her she emphatically wanted to hug me and talk.
I am a hugger. I really am. I am a big fan of hugging and showing those you care about that you care – it’s just that… in the cafeteria, everyone is watching. And when you are an HR girl, you just can’t quite be a huggy person. And especially not at work. With your employees. The next thing you know, someone’s claiming favoritism, or harassment or God-only knows what else. Plain and simple, it’s just not acceptable for an HR girl to be hugging. People don’t even like to be caught talking with HR people, let alone hug them by the salad bar.
So she calls my name and I sigh, because I know that today is going to be one of those big, public hug-days and I kind of wish I could’ve waited another 30 minutes to decide to walk to the cafeteria. But as I turn and catch a glimpse of her face, something stops me in my tracks. She just looks off.
“Hi,” I greet her as she comes up to me. I’m searching her face to see what’s going on. She offers me a weak smile and reaches out her arm into a half hug. I hug back.
“How are you doing?” she asks and I quickly mutter a dismissive reply, pushing her question away. Her face tells me this is no time for water-cooler chatter. She started to talk and then she choked on her words, breaking off into silence.
I took her back to my office where she sat down and told me that she had just gotten a call. When her doctor was doing some routine followup with her, he found a “suspicious” spot. A “suspicious” spot for a cancer survivor is not an ok thing to have. Suspicious means Danger!! Danger!!, and a much bigger-badder danger than it would mean for a non-cancer survivor.
She stared down at her knees and said softly and quietly, “I can’t do this again.”
So I did the only thing I could do; I pulled HER into a big hug, and I held her as she sobbed.
I don’t know what you say in those moments. So I didn’t say anything at all.
When she left my office a while later, and I ventured back down to the cafeteria to get my forgotten lunch, I thought about my call. Here I had been anxiously waiting for a call about a stupid pair of GLASSES… an idiotic, selfish, vain THING, a PURCHASE… and meanwhile, on the same floor in the same building, another girl was waiting for a call about whether her CANCER was back. We were both anxiously watching our phones; but from completely different angles.
Talk about putting things into perspective.
How much time do I really spend worrying about, thinking about, exerting precious time on… things that matter not one tiny little bit? When I sat on my laptop all last night working my SECOND job, as Little One watched repeated episodes of Dora and climbed into my lap and I got mad because he accidentally caused me to send an email to a whole contact list instead of one person… how ridiculous. How completely unimportant.
I need to readjust those new glasses of mine, and hope that I can keep some perspective on what’s really important.
It doesn’t matter whether you think life is half full, or half empty… it’s recognizing the precious gift of having a glass to begin with.
Cheers, my friends.