Photo by Fahmi Fakhrudin on Unsplash

Recently, I’ve been thinking about an older couple who would visit a coffee shop I used to work at many years ago. For a while, they would come in fairly regularly, about every other week. The gentleman was especially conspicuous to me because of his demeanor; This guy was always beaming and smiling with an almost a childlike excitement as he ordered. Once he got his drink he would take a moment to appreciate it… close his eyes, smell it, and take a sip. Then he would look across the bar with a big grin, brag about the skills of the barista… about how good his drink was and what an amazing job they did. Every time he walked in the door, it was a similar interaction. He would be smiling, and gracious. Always took the time to taste his beverage and connect with the people around him.

The last time I remember seeing him, the shop wasn’t busy… no unrelenting line of zombie-eyed people out the door demanding to be caffeinated. So, I took the opportunity to say something. I told him how it made me happy to see him and his wife when they walked through the door and how he made the day a little better for everyone. It was then that he mentioned it was his birthday. He’d already paid for his latte, but I really wanted to do something nice for this man. So, I gave him a gift coupon for a free drink the next time he stopped in. You would’ve thought I’d given him a winning lottery ticket by the way he lit up and thanked me.

Turns out this was a pretty special birthday. He leaned in close and thanked me. Still grinning, he then told me that he’d been diagnosed with terminal cancer and the doctors had only given him about three months to live.

This was month number four… thirty extra days and counting… each one a gift to him. Every. Single. Day.

He was a man who was present and at peace… really drinking in every moment, even the small ones, with gratitude and mindfulness. As he and his wife started to leave, I told him to come back and see me so I could make him that drink. He turned, pointed his coupon at me, winked, smiled and said, “all right.” He had such a full and grateful heart. He was so alive. Those brief encounters became a cumulative masterclass on living. I don’t want to waste that lesson.

The year 2020 has has been anything but normal. Nothing is certain. Frankly, it’s difficult to navigate. But if I get quiet, and present, that lesson kicks in. It’s like that quote from Ram Dass, “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” I know that in this moment, I’m ok. Today is a gift. All is gift. Today is going to be all right.