HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns

July 9, 2007

Watch fireworks, drink lemonade, and catch fireflies

I met a pleasant man this week, someone who was calm, but determined.

His pleasant demeanor and blunt commentary, yet again, transformed the lens I view life through.

This past week personified the exact definition of the word occupation. My plate was heaped full of every possible task, and Independence Day proved to occupy my time in almost every way imaginable.

It was a week of social reunion, deadlines, and royal chaos – literally. The conclusion to the week was worth the stress, it ended pleasantly with a beach, some fireworks, and a conversation that made my life-viewing lens rose-colored once again.

It’s incredible to me how many people exist on this planet who all have their own perspective of universe and how, in one busy week, can make you blind to others and this realization.

For the past three years, my Fourth of July has had a different flavor to it. Not only have I been out of high school, but I’ve had the title of Princess of Delano, and this year, it came to a finish, giving the idea of “independence day” a new taste.

The week was packed with red, white, and blue – where every day, the morning felt like it was two weeks ago – those kinds of days – but once the Fourth came, everything went into slow motion.

There was a banquet, a coronation, and of course, a scorching hot parade.

The day turned out to be a ticket to lazy – to do what I wanted to do, all day long, a chance for the smoke to clear, and for me to wrap my brain around the marathon of time I just cruised through.

I realized that the world was still turning and things came into focus, especially when meeting the maintenance man at the beach.

He was an older man, with a lot of years on his face, who sat proudly upon a riding lawn mower, equipped with claw to pick up garbage – keeping the beach clean. He made his way over to let my friends and I know what time the park closed, and we acknowledged him with a pleasant wish of a “happy Fourth of July,” which was the necessary means to open this man’s heart.

He chatted with us for quite awhile, bringing up his daily tasks, and how he cleans the park. The way he spoke of his days though was not in complaint, but rather as a matter of fact.

This made me think about so many things, like how easily I’ve complained about everything I’ve had to do and how much sleep I’ve lost, as if to expect a gold medal for it.

But this man, he kept it simple; he did the task at hand and carried on with his life. And on top of that, he was also interested in our lives – asking us about where we were headed in life after high school.

I think we meet people on purpose sometimes, to humble who we are. You could tell this man just needed someone to talk to, not for long, but just to reconnect with humanity, and in return, I was humbled by his hard-working spirit.

As I was sitting at the beach, and our conversation as coming to a close, I became aware of the hot, burning sun in the background and the crashing of the waves on the shore – a setting I’ve been in many times before, but this time, it came with a sense of tranquility that was needed to slow life down.

Sometimes life can get ugly, but a good swim and a day outside can dissolve that into a setting for peace of mind.

There are going to be situations that arise, that allow your perspective to change, and places to go to relieve a little steam. I think the point is to look at the ordinary and soak in its simplicity, in order to slow down the extravagant schedule of reality.

Watch fireworks. Drink lemonade. Catch fireflies.

Sometimes, your friends and family are not going to want to listen, but a stranger might, and the water always will. Things are going to get tough, but there are those small things – those simple, ordinary, taken-for-granted things that are just as good as a hug from a good friend.

It’s in settings like this you don’t need to speak, or even think; you can just be and let live.

Tomorrow might be crazy – it might seem impossible to get though, but the water, the sunset, and the fireflies in the distance – that is what slows you down, calms you down, and allows you to regroup and be in the moment.

The man at the beach probably will never know the extent of the wisdom he released in his simple conversation, but he made this Fourth of July memorable.

Slow down. Drink lemonade, and talk to strangers – it might make you look at today differently than you did when you woke up.