How a chance encounter with a stranger shifted my perspective on ‘being’ — and how I wanted to ‘be’ in the world
I’ve recently been thinking a lot about striving. Doesn’t it seem like we’re always hustling for something bigger, brighter, shinier, more — more money, more followers, more likes, more love, more stuff? Sometimes we simply need to take a break from strategizing and slip into more ‘being’. But let’s face it, that takes practice because we’re pretty accustomed (and addicted) to life set on high octane. We all have our version of it.
That mindset distracts us from our true desires and soul call. However, the easiest way to point yourself back in the right direction is to either get still or get silly and have some fun (or perhaps a combination of it all) — which reminds me of one of my all-time favorite stories of playful giving.
One afternoon driving to an appointment, after quickly scoring a parking spot and having just parallel-parked my car successfully the first time (a feat in itself) — I glanced quickly at the clock on the dashboard. I was early. So what did I do? After digging into the blackhole of my handbag for a handful of quarters to feed the meter, I sat there and scrolled through my phone to make sure Oprah hadn’t sent me an email. Ha! I jest, but the urgency and frequency with which we check our electronic devices tells a different story, doesn’t it? (Wink) I digress.
It was late in the day, the sun was low in the sky and sending glowing beams straight through my windshield. That’s probably why we didn’t see each other at first. When I glanced up, there was a shadowed figure standing before my car and my parking meter. Panic. Am I getting a ticket? But before I could defensively respond and release myself from my seatbelt he was gone. He never saw me sitting there in the car. Perhaps he too was blinded by the ‘light’.
I was stunned when it finally clicked and I realized what he had done.
This kindly, older gentleman who happened upon an expired meter just fed it with a few coins dug out of his pocket…just because.
He didn’t know me, or recognize my car, he wasn’t a meter reader or a traffic cop — he was a meter fairy.
I couldn’t make out his face, but I remember the notable gait to his stride as he disappeared down the sidewalk. He boasted a somewhat childlike, impish energy and left a trail of happy behind him. He wasn’t looking to be noticed, he was just ‘being’ — being thoughtful, being considerate, being his Best Self and chuckling to himself as he did it. And I wanted to know more about his ‘just because’ being. Quarter by quarter, he was making an impact in someone else’s life whether they realized it or not.
Sometimes the embodiment of being isn’t all about what else we need to be doing for ourselves or what else we need to be achieving or acquiring. Sometimes it is found in what we can be giving and sharing.
Think of an expired meter as ‘time’s up’ on some old thinking. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to tap a little more into that life force energy; to be more connected, caring and loving.
Time was up on my meter and an old way of thinking. What I longed for more of: to capture some of that energy – making magic out of the mundane, being present and amused throughout my day, no matter what. I still think of him and smile whenever I see a parking meter. And now, my eyes are open and on the lookout for my own fun…and to pay it forward. Expired meters beware. I’m coming for you! I hold loose change in a new regard. Only a few random quarters…but oh the possibilities.
You may enjoy reading other short articles of inspiration in our Best Self Bytes section.