More of Others, Less of Me

“I will make someone’s life better today.” This was a promise I made to myself a long time ago. But somewhere along the line, I forgot that promise.

I’m not sure when it happened. It may have been the brain injury, which turned me from a talkative and slightly-extroverted person into someone who thought only of herself, and didn’t, and sometimes couldn’t, communicate.

Maybe it was before that, when my life was about accumulating stuff I selfishly thought I needed. Using money just for me. Giving less to others, more to myself.

Or it could have been when my life was a flash of movement, shopping and errands, chore after chore after chore. Bumping into people without saying a word. Ignoring others, drowning out voices.

At some point, I forgot the rest of the world existed. I thought I was the only one who mattered. Self-centered. Selfish. Greedy me.

One day, in the middle of a grocery store, I was reminded what life was about, and that I was not the center of it. My reminder arrived in the form of a hunched-over elderly woman.

Her gray hair was tied in a neat little bun. Wrinkles encased her eyes like rings around a tree, each one so elegantly displayed. She was dressed in a dark linen dress, yellow and white flowers sprinkled throughout. She approached me slowly.

“I can’t find the flax. Do you know where it is?”

I wanted to tell her no, walk away, let her figure it out. I was busy with chores to do, and places to go. But when I looked in her eyes, soft, questioning, I nearly stopped breathing.

She was old, and alone. With the voice of a quiet angel, and if possible, a heart displayed on her face. Sweet. Kind. I realized then how long it had been since I’d really looked at someone.

I led her down the aisle, pulled the flax off the shelf, and set it in her cart. The truth was, I really wasn’t that busy. My chores were nearly done, and even if they hadn’t been, this life before me, this woman, was more important than me.

“Thank you,” she said, “I couldn’t have found it without you.”

I looked at her, a giant in a small frame, a woman who, in two minutes of my time, changed my life.

I may have helped her that day, but in reality, she helped me. She reminded me what life is. More of Others, Less of Me.

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