Quite often - sometimes as regularly as once a week - I drive to a local senior resource center in the morning. There, I unpack millions of beads from a rolling suitcase and lay them out on a long table. Each time, a group of 10-14 senior ladies (and one man,) come to peek through what I've brought today. They then sit down at one of three, round tables and make pretty things for themselves, for their loved ones, for donations to this or that fund-raiser. Sometimes I teach them new techniques, or guide them as they create their designs. All Times they teach me.
- ...that I never know, until I arrive, who's going to participate in one of my sessions...even though there's been a sign-up sheet at the beginning of a series.
- ...that there's always at least one person who's a little bit cranky...and the crankiness is, so far, never about me.
- ...that I can count on frequent laughs from more than half of the participants in these little workshops.
- ...that every time I leave the seniors center I'm feeling nearly wiped out from exhaustion and, at the same time, I feel all smiley and warm inside from having had another day with the people with whom I've just spent 2 1/2 hours.
- ...that with this group of people I don't have to concern myself with saying things that feel "appropriate" or "normal." It never crosses my mind that I need to come across as my most sophisticated self. These folks have leaped over the hurdle that encompasses the larger part of adulthood, in which we curtail our natural voices and speak and act in ways that are geared toward proper society. When I'm with them, I can crawl on the floor (can't seem to get out of there without crawling on the floor, in fact!) and spontaneously ask if someone wants to sing to help distract us all from how far behind I've grown in finishing off their pieces. I can call to someone across the room, making a joke about something they've told me before, and ask how that new color is working out for them...especially when it's a color they were initially hesitant to use.
- ...that they are grateful for the smallest courtesies and remind me to approach life with gratitude, as well.
- ...that it doesn't matter if the rain pours from the sky or the morning is cold. They put on a charming hat, a pair of warm socks, and get out there so they can keep participating in activities that keep them vital and engaged.
- ...they don't make snide, secretive comments behind the backs of someone who might be odd or atypical. In fact, if someone has something to say, it's said with fabulous boldness...right to your face! Refreshing, I tell you!
- ...if I can't get to someone who needs help as quickly as I might like, at least one or two people are immediately available to try and see what they can do to offer assistance.
- ...that I've once more signed a contract that allows me to continue working with these people who grow on me a little more every week.