Friday, February 12, 2010


I was standing in line at the supermarket, waiting to get to one of the new-fangled, futuristic, self-checkout machines. Victoria and I had run out of our favorite beverage: apple juice and mineral (sparkling for you Americans) water. As I stood there, I noticed the short, rotund female security guard standing at the head of the row of machines, directing customers to their allotted checkout robot.

As I took her in, my thoughts drifted to familiar, wistful notions of the past, present and future of someone like this woman- possibly an immigrant, with a family to support and not many prospects for advancement. In moments like these I often feel sadness, thinking about the fact that at one point this woman was a little girl like any other, dreaming of an exciting, happy life, being everything she wanted to be. Is this the way she wanted to turn out, saying "number 3" to clowns like me in my ridiculous cut-off shorts and handcut t-shirt (don't ask)?

It was at this moment that I remembered something comforting: whether or not this woman in front of me has a secret, passionate life of which I'm ignorant, there DOES exist inside her the same magnificent humanity as exists in our favorite orchestral conductor, NBA athlete, inspirational political leader or selfless carer of the sick and helpless. The potential in a person may not in a particular moment be realised, but it is enough to know it is THERE, and in every waking moment has the chance to flower. Who knows what the spark might be that sets off the fire in that woman, to suddenly start to create the life she has always imagined? Maybe that fire is already lit.

All I know is whether you're a toll collector, or a security guard at a supermarket, or a news anchor, or anything else, in every moment we always have the choice to lovingly and self-respectingly affirm that as human beings we have the right in every moment to allow the beauty of that humanity to come through in how we live. Even better is the knowledge that with or without our help, it does anyway.

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