Sometimes it’s the simplest things that make the most difference. I’ve been trying to drink more water and the thought occurred to me our filtered office water might taste fresher with some lemon juice. So I walked past my favorite coffee shop on the way back to my desk and asked for a lemon. My girl Kristin over there, who’s always quick with a joke and a sly teasing comment about how high maintenance I can be, handed over a perfectly wrapped little lemon slice and said, “Hey that’s wrapped gold right there!” with a wink. It was perfect.
To know and be known. I think that’s what everyone really wants in life. For people around to notice you, to consider you with kindness, to genuinely care. I’m aware that I can be high maintenance and very particular when it comes to important issues, but really the things that make me most happy are so little. A slice of lemon is truly gold to me today.
I’ve been thinking a lot about why it means so much to me to be known lately. Perhaps it has to do with the space my mother’s death left in my life. She certainly knew me better than just about anyone else, yet I often felt a tug-of-war for her attention. She was busy and involved, running around experiencing life, traveling, doing good out there in the big world. Sometimes I felt I had to jump up and down to get her to slow down and take notice of me. And when she did, it meant everything. Like the time she scolded me about parking in the neighbor’s space and I threw a little fit and left to run an errand. When I came back, I was still tense and cranky, but trying to let the feeling go. Mom hugged me immediately—she didn’t even wait until I put the groceries down—and said, “I know the parking space isn’t most important, the most important thing is we are here together.” My crankiness melted away. She knew me.
In everyday life, maybe it’s not just about feeling known, but also about my own perceptions of the quirky little things that come naturally to me. If I see someone wearing earrings I like, I’ll comment on them and tell her so. If I have questions about a product or service, I’ll ask. If someone offers to help and I need it, I’ll try to let them know what would be most helpful in that moment—because I take for granted the fact that people are basically good and most folks aren’t apathetic, they actually want to know how to get involved. I certainly don’t think I’m alone in what I notice or what I need and want, but I may be in the minority when it comes to the ability to open my mouth and comment, ask, or talk about elephants in the room.
Another one of my coffee shop friends, Amanda, made me an amazing cup of Hawaiian Coconut coffee this morning with just the right amount of soymilk and Splenda, exactly how I like. I thanked her and commented on how good it feels to be known to someone else. As she carefully pressed a white coffee cup lid onto my favorite ceramic mug from home, she replied that all her life she has wanted to be a “regular” at a local coffee shop and be able to walk in and have someone know just what to serve her.
And you know what? For the rest of the day, I’ll be thinking about that and wondering what small part I might be able to play in giving her that feeling for just a minute. Because sometimes that little “slice of gold” just means everything.