If you’ve been following my adventures, you know I spent the winter working as a barista and a part-time philosophy instructor.
A few weeks ago, I left the coffee shop gig for a position serving at a local cafe. In many ways, a major quality of life improvement: better hours (i.e. no more waking up at 4 am), higher pay, and a more diverse and challenging work experience. I continue to teach at a local University as well. I had grand plans of picking up my thesis, pounding it out by the end of summer. Now I recognize the craziness of that plan. As it is, “just” working, I have little time for play. And that kind of bums me out.
Regardless of my dissatisfaction with this lack of balance, it’s not all for naught. I am always learning. In fact, today’s been a series of reflections on what work is teaching (or re-teaching) me about life in general.
1. I can’t change others, no matter how much I’d like that power. Everyone is on his or her own particular journey, a journey that often doesn’t gel smoothly with mine. If I let it, that disconnect brings me loads of discomfort, angst, and sleeplessness. And I cannot do a damned thing about others’ worries, stresses, problems, attitudes, outlooks, or feelings. All I possess is the capacity to show up, be as positive and mindful as possible, and not let myself be so easily derailed or rerouted.
2. Honey, not vinegar. You know that old saying, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar”? I’m fortunate to be faced with the honey/vinegar decision at least three times an hour these days. This relates to control issues (as discussed above) too. Just because someone else is throwing around vinegar doesn’t mean I need to participate. By no means am I able to stay in the honey all the time; I’m a flawed and bumpy human being. A particularly sensitive one at that. I pick up external energy fields like my favorite brown sweater collects errant pet hair. It is something I have to pay attention to: do not get sucked in. Honey. Everything else is a distraction.
3. Please and Thank You. There appears to be a void in the collective public’s vocabulary. Me? I choose to say please and thank you, ad nauseam. Gratitude up the yin-yang.
4. I have no idea what’s going on in Person A, B, or C’s inner self. However, I am usually safe operating under the following assumption: it is not about me. So long as I keep my spiritual ideals front and center, operate from a place of love and compassion, and wipe my own nose. What a relief! The world doesn’t rise and fall in me and often, others’ foul moods are due to their own particular life challenges and struggles. When stuck in my own negative space, I too lash out around me.
5. Every day is a new beginning. Please forgive the platitude however it is true. Each morning, when I open my eyes, I am faced with the most important decision I make that day: how I intend to move forward. I’ve tested it enough times to know for certain that when I step onto the floor with thoughts like “this day sucks already” or “I don’t want to _____ (insert go to work, do my school reading/planning, get out of bed in general),” the day will be dreadful. All I will pick up on is the negative stuff. I will miss the momentary, fleeting snapshots of coolness life continually shows me. I will make my own day suck. If I can take two seconds before pulling my head from the pillow and decide that instead, I am going to have a kick-ass day, it typically turns around and fast.
I am sure there are many more golden life nuggets hidden in waitressing too. I will do my best to remain teachable, pay attention to what matters, and laugh off the rest.
Peace and love to all.