While waiting for a woman to join me for a cup of tea yesterday, I sat and sipped my Chai Latte and flipped through my cellphone, checking my FB feed and reading emails and maybe even eavesdropped on the conversations around me.
I know. I know. It’s not polite to eavesdrop but… people often talk so loudly in public places I wonder if they think no one is listening. I figure it’s only polite to not let them raise their voices in vain.
Anyway, this post isn’t about eavesdropping. It’s about marks we leave on the world around us.
We all have a presence in the world. We make an imprint. On our families, community, workspace, cyperspace.
Sometimes, our mark is like my lipstick stain on a mug. It’s fleeting. A momentary smudge and then it’s gone. It’s impact is minimal. It may only affect one or two people and then, it is washed away.
And yet, in that one mark, we have the opportunity to make a difference. To make an impression.
Years ago, when I was volunteering with a woman who made sandwiches for people on the streets of the east end of Vancouver, I used to imagine that as I layered mustard and ham and other fillings on each sandwich, I was also layering in love. That, along with the nutrients of the food, each bite of every sandwich I made included a big bite of love so that the individual biting into it was being filled physically, and emotionally.
I don’t know who will wash off that lipstick stain. I do know that they can see it as an annoying leftover from a customer who wore lipstick, or, they can see it as a gentle kiss of connection.
What if they imagined that the person sipping that cup savoured every drop of their Chai Latte and as they sipped it, they were transported by the fragrant spicy aromas to lands far away where palm trees swayed in the hot tropical sun and warm ocean breezes wafted through an open window bringing with it the sounds of parrots squawking and waves lapping at the sands.
I have no control over what happens in the mind of the person who will wash that mug. I do have control over what thoughts I leave behind with my lipstick impression.
I can choose to make them thoughts of gratitude. Of peace. Of appreciation for the momentary respite to sit and sip a Chai and watch the world around me and be transported to grand spaces and thoughts and ideas I’d never before imagined.
And in the marks I leave behind, I can choose to imagine they are filled with my thoughts of possibility, of hope, of loving kindness and joyful appreciation.
I can also choose to be conscious of the marks I leave on the world around me, and when I leave one that might cause extra work or unease for the person behind me, I can choose to wipe it away before they have to clean up my mess.
Or maybe even, not put on fresh lipstick before going for a tea!