Standing in line yesterday at the post office -- while on a daring (self-inflicted) excursion to mail out some last-minute cards and packages -- I observed impatience and rudeness in their most magnified form. Here we were, all 100 of us strangers crammed into this space, awaiting our turn at the counter, as the line slowly but consistently dwindled before us, some of us in better moods than others, if only out of resignation (those things won't ship themselves!).
After an obnoxiously rude woman decided it was the postal worker's fault that her ginormous package would not make it to its destination before Christmas without Priority Shipping, the older gentleman in front of me, turned around (as if looking for a witness to the crazy around us), smiled and whispered, "Nothing like the holiday season to bring out the holiday spirit in people, huh?" I smiled, nodded and sighed, "Oh, the irony, right?" He had more to add, and I'm so glad he did because it was everything that every single person in that crowded post office needed to hear (though one or two of us actually did).
"I delivered packages for FedEx for 25 years. Around the holidays, I somehow always became a target of bad manners. How's this for perspective? We're standing in line inside, with the heater going, waiting to send out packages we purchased for people we love. This beats the lines in Aleppo, right?" Seemingly out of nowhere, the lady behind me chimed in, "Or a soup kitchen." Perspective indeed.
After about 45 minutes of standing in line, I made it home, where I learned that an ambassador was killed in cold blood and that a cheerful Christmas market had been violently turned into a terrorizing crime scene. Perspective, when we dare to look it in the eyes, is a humbling, calming yet unsettling thing, isn't it?
As we welcome a spirited holiday weekend for many, as some of us venture into the core of the season with mixed emotions, as many find themselves grappling with recent wounds, as others are feeling complete and well-deserved bliss, let's be mindful, let's be present, let's be aware. Let's have some perspective, shall we?