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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Grocery Store Wisdom - Tomatoes

Welcome to another Tuesday edition of “Grocery Store Wisdom” – a musing about noticing Life living Itself in form. You may want to read my blog from last week (June 30th) to get a little background, if you’ve not already read it.

Today I was in the second grocery store on my list of the three that I visit. I pulled the carriage up to the checkout stand. The clerk started checking me out as we made light conversation. For some unknown reason I just happened to look to my left, and since there was no one in line behind me I could see directly down one of the isles – which happened to be the light bulb isle. Just as l looked, a rather teeny tiny, frail looking elderly woman, started to turn her carriage around in the middle of the isle. She suddenly had a look of panic on her face, although it wasn’t immediately apparent why. I knew something was wrong, just by the look on her face. And then her little legs and feet just started backing up *really* quickly in very little steps. Her eyes grew wider. In that same instant in time I suddenly realized that she was off balance and was trying to hang on to the carriage, but the grocery cart had wheels, of course, so she was actually pulling the cart backwards *with* her. In an instant she slammed backwards into the wall of shelves behind her and then quickly slid down the face of the shelves and landed *hard* on her little butt. She looked panicked and quickly scurried to get up at the same time that I said to the cashier that someone had fallen and headed up the isle to make sure she was okay.

By the time I got to her, she had already stood back up and was hanging onto the carriage again. She looked shaken and stunned. I asked her if she was all right and she *said* she was, but I asked her again, just to be sure, cause *I* wasn’t. She still said yes, although she *appeared* confused and shaken. The cashier came up behind me and tended to the woman. I went back to the check out stand where I had left my purse and wallet out, wide open on the stand. Ooops… I waited there as he tended to her. She seemed to be asking him about the light bulbs on the shelf… as if trying to divert the attention from what had just happened. She was embarrassed I’m sure. Other store employees came to assist. The clerk eventually returned to the check out stand and finished checking me out. I turned again to look down the isle. The little woman had disappeared, seemingly vanished.

I then wondered if she had driven herself, as she certainly shouldn’t be driving! My goodness she can’t even drive a grocery cart, let alone a powerful car! What if she lost control of the car!? I hated to even think about that…

On the way home I was reflecting on this incident and I became a little teary thinking about it. The grocery store wisdom began to emerge. She seemed so fragile and so scared. And it touched me because it reminded me of how fragile I feel sometimes too, how frightened when life goes in directions that I can’t anticipate or control - not just physically, but psychologically and emotionally, financially and even spiritually. In her moment of fragility I was also reminded of others in my family who are also fragile in one way or another. Others who at times I have judged, or felt impatient with because they just couldn’t get their life together… Like I should talk! :) Collectively we’re really all so very fragile, in so many ways, and yet we live as though we aren’t – hiding behind a façade of achievement and accomplishment, or toughness and violence, judgment and criticism, or even a mask of spirituality. But really we’re just like little tomatoes in the produce department that ripen differently, and when squeezed too tightly, say by life circumstances for instance, we can burst – squish. Or with just one slip we may fall off the shelf and roll across the floor, feeling injured… Vulnerability is humbling. It’s also an equalizer when we let it touch us, when we can acknowledge our own vulnerability in life. Compassion arises with a shared vulnerability, when we see that we’re all in the same tomato bin together, some more fragile than others…

Handle with care…

Heart Smiles – MeANderi
www.ASerenitySanctuary.com

2 comments:

  1. Yes it is the human predicament isn't it. We are all frail at sometime in, in some ways. Sickness, old age and death, these (as the Buddha pointed out) are all aspects of life, no one escapes them forever.

    And I think that the ultimate act of bravery is to let that vulnerability be visible sometimes. Then as you say we can see that we're all in the same "tomato basket" Great analogy. Tomatoes are so tender. They bruise when bumped, split when dropped, get over ripe if left too long ....

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  2. Yes, tomatoes and people... tender, juicey, fragile... and delightfully delicious in our own ways... :)

    Heart Smiles :)

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