He Changed the Unit of Measurement
He Changed the Unit of Measurement
I just completed the imaginative book “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig.
My mind is spinning and reeling with delight at all the possibilities presented in this work.
The theme for me, among the many presented, is the infinite possibilities of life we are given in this world, and it is ours to choose. And we so often choose based on our units of measurement, many of which are put upon us by society or family members.
So much unhappiness comes from measuring ourselves and our lives against those of others, or wishing we were further along, or younger, or richer, etc. Perhaps I am more philosophical these days because right now I am ensconced in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado, enchanted by the white gentle snow on Mt. Sopris, which rises like a queen and a beacon throughout this area. No matter where you are, she calls to you with her gentle beauty. The Roaring Fork Valley is aptly named, for it has has several confluences of rivers. The Frying Pan River merges with the Roaring Fork River, which then merges into the mighty Colorado River. All around there is motion...live streaming, as it were....energy hurtling towards its larger self, each rock the water kisses and then surges over waving a frothy goodbye.
Yesterday in one of the mountaineering shops I met a man named Jay...he is a smiling and very tall being with dancing eyes, maybe in his mid thirties. As I meandered among the aisles, bending here to look at headlamps, or study different brands of microfiber towels, we began to visit. He seemed to know so much about each product that I touched, and would offer his ideas only when my eyes seemed to be trying to discern the better choice. He would say “If I might make a suggestion...” When I wandered over to the shoe section he knew mountains of facts about each shoe design. For example the arch of the shoe in relationship to the duty it was required to perform, or a more in-depth story about the founders of each line, as well as what inspired them to do something a little different in their sole work. Finally, I asked him “How long have you worked here?” “Ten years,” he smiled. I asked if he was from the valley and that led to the story of his parents, one of whom has two degrees from MIT and came here on a six week sabbatical years ago and never left. His mother was recently the President of a local Community Board that oversaw the construction of the new library. It seems Jay himself has multiple degrees, and had dabbled in the IT world, before settling on working in this mountaineering store back where he was born. He was happy here. I could see it in his eyes. I watched him interact with other adventurers and he was just as bright, thoughtful, and engaging.
One woman, bending down near the lower shelves, was dressed in serious Lycra cycling gear. She asked “Did you see the bear on the trail? Mile Marker 19.” I admitted that I had not, as my eyes are usually on the river. She turned to suddenly face me and I could see that she was easily in her mid eighties, not mid thirties, as her form and manner had suggested. Jay smiled at her and called her by name as she made her purchase.
Other people coming in seemed curious, excited, slightly perplexed about what shoe or shirt or lamp to buy for their next adventure. A young woman dressed very stylishly said she was on her lunch break, and was getting ready to go on a hike to Moab and knew that her high heels would not cut it.
Just then an Australian Shepherd came bounding in from the back of the store towards me, wagging his tail as if he had just discovered me, then he quickly turned and greeted every other shopper in the store the same way. “That’s Benito,” said Jay. “He mostly hangs out in the bike shop but comes in every day about this time to check in on everybody.” After Benito had wagged and nuzzled hello to everyone in the store he was back out the door.
I could see why a man as bright, energetic and articulate as Jay could be drawn to working here. He had found that knowing the arch of a shoe best suited for the person in front of him was more fulfilling than shaping an algorithm for strangers. Here, everyone had a destination they were excited about. Curious about. Eager to know more about. Wanting to be prepared.
And I thought, this radiant man has defined his own unit of measurement for success, and it is in this valley of rivers...of running water...
Jesus looked at the people in the desert, searching for answers, and as he bent to help a young woman with her shoe, he said softly “The Living Water is right here, in front of you.”
Life. Here Now. Live it.
And be kind.