‘Beauty is not in the face, beauty is a light in the heart’
The other day I was in the supermarket and must have needed a reminder of how awful life is for some folk as I had – ta-da ‘An Encounter’!
A woman had left her cart parked in the middle of the aisle and as I was having difficulty trying to manouvre around it I gave it a wee push to the side, which, it appears, made said woman mad as all get out…… and I was the sudden recipient of a shot of venom that could have felled a lumberjack! While I stood frozen in stunned silence she finished her tirade about my general incompetence as a human being with the words “……..you old bitch!”
Now I’m a woman with some understanding of the human condition and I know that when you scratch someone and reveal such raw hatred you have met a very unhappy being. One should be filled with compassion at such misery – but this One wasn’t. This One reared up and said indignantly “Excuse Me?”
She was tall and I am not, so there must have been some authority in those two words as she kind of backed off, not making eye contact and muttering under her breath.
I stood staring blindly at the assorted sweet potatoes I had been reaching for, trying to remove the venom that had been hurled at me and calm my indignation. It took a few moments.
I pondered my role and took responsibility – lesson learned – never touch the shopping cart of an unhappy woman! But still I was rattled and indignant. I couldn’t shake it off.
A couple of aisles further on and I bumped into YD also doing her shopping and the encounter was poured out to her. She knew immediately who it was and reported that she had also had an encounter with the same woman moments previously – ‘murderous’ was her description. “And she has a child with her” said YD “he’s pale and thin poor kid.” So it wasn’t just me, it wasn’t personal – it was all about this poor unhappy person. We just happened to be there.
I didn’t feel any better though and felt ashamed to admit that I had not noticed the child in my encounter – that’s how rattled I was.
The incident stayed with me, I put it down to the intensity of unhappiness in that woman and it was not until the following morning when I woke that the real reason made itself known.
She had called me ‘an old bitch’. And it wasn’t the ‘bitch’ bit that mattered – it was the ‘old’.
I lay in bed giggling – she’d caught me out! My inner picture of myself as eternally young was crushed – she had looked at me and seen ‘old’. And that one word had sent me spiraling out of self-confidence into panicky ego-driven indignation. Ah!
When I was a young woman in my 20’s, my favourite aunt had told me of her struggles with her aging appearance. She was in her late 60’s at the time and yet felt herself inwardly to be a young and vibrant woman. She was strolling down the street one day and saw the reflection in a shop window of an old lady bustling along, walking towards her. She noted the woman was wearing a similar coat and was thinking how much nicer the coat looked on her than the old lady. As she got closer to the mirrored shop window she realised it was herself and was horrified. She said, “From that time on my self confidence was eroded – I had to work very hard to remember I am more than what my outer appearance says.” She was thoughtful a moment then added, “And wise people see that.”
Now I know what she meant.
So I now have a sense of gratitude for the encounter with the unhappy lady in the supermarket [while hoping she gets some help for her anger issues!]. Yes I am getting older, and if you choose that is all you will see. But my world is a rich place made of a life time of experiences, adventures, lessons learned and non-material wealth gathered. It is a place full of love and contentment.
Come visit me here sometimes and share it!