All week I’ve been working late. I needed a bit of a break in the early evening yesterday so I walked a half-mile down to a coffee shop for some coffee. I noticed a guy in front of my with an ankle monitor on. It intrigued me because….clearly wasn’t on house arrest. I noticed a table of three women seeming to be looking at him and talking about him. I then looked at the table beside me and saw a self-help book with a notepad full of notes.
I ordered my coffee and needed to get right back to work, but as I turned to walk back out I saw him sitting at that table, self help book open, pen in hand with his notebook. I stopped and asked him about the book. My curiosity wanted to ask him about the ankle monitor, and I still find myself wondering the circumstances that led to that, but I knew that was not the important thing. We talked for a few minutes, nothing noteworthy, nothing personal, just a short rabbit hole conversation about a few self-help books and gurus. As I was about to walk away I couldn’t help myself and said “I’ll be praying for you man.” I instantly half cringed at myself worried that could come off as a bit arrogant (though lets be honest, I am a bit), but he just smiled and nodded in approval. It felt like a subtle acknowledgement that he knew I definitely saw and was curious about the ankle monitor, that I knew there was a good story there that likely involved him doing some bad things, but that the only conversation I was having was about where he is and where he’s going from there….and how self-help books and note taking are a vehicle he’s using to get there. Those were my actions.
I left and thought about how he wears his circumstances on him – the ankle monitor, in 90 degree Florida heat when you’re in shorts and flip flops, you can’t hide the ankle monitor. But how often do the rest of us, though a reminder of our circumstances not legally bound to our ankle, where are circumstances with us everywhere we go? And, what are we doing about that? Are we knee deep in notes taking action on improving, or are we just singing songs of our woes inviting others to join in on the stagnate chorus?
I think there is something beautiful about someone stuck in the mud, unable to hide their circumstances, not ashamed to dive deep into the process of self improvement.
And also, that iced coffee I got was really good.