A few weeks ago, our Saturday was crazier than most. We were pretty much on super charged roller skates the whole day. We rushed from gymnastics, back home, to the city, back home and then finally reached the supermarket at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. I have been working 5 days a week lately, so time management and prioritising have been more important than ever.
When we got to the supermarket, I grabbed a trolley and set out on my imaginary race against time to grab a week’s groceries in 10 minutes. Was it possible? My mind thought it was, it had to be, we had to be out for dinner by 6 o’clock!
My precious little girl was by my side, eager to grab every item required as we rushed through the aisles at record speed. But, (yep there is always a but), we were stopped in our tracks by a lovely old man who was pondering which potato chips to purchase by comparing the sodium intake specified between the plain and the salt and vinegar chips. “Look at that!” He declared, “The plain chips have far less sodium in them than the salt and vinegar!” “Yep”, I said, “If you have to have chips, plain would be the better option!” “Yes”, he answered, and then it started. He told me about why he needed to watch his sodium intake, his recent health problems and his operations. He was in his element. I find it hard to cut people off, so I listened. Suddenly, I forgot we were strapped for time as I was swept up in his stories and his journey back in time.
His name was Chris, and he was an ex-boxer, had won the golden gloves twice, the southern hemisphere light weight once and stopped fighting because he had killed someone in the ring (who had been in an accident and should not have been fighting), with one punch. After this, he stopped fighting gave the boxer’s family his winnings and started body building. Met Arnold Schwarzenegger (who apparently is a great guy), and won Mr Southern Hemisphere. “Wow, is this guy telling the truth?” I thought. Then I looked at his nose and knew instantly that that was the nose of a boxer!
He told me that he had been bullied right through primary school, and started boxing at 13. This immediately caught my attention, as the past few months at home have been filled with my son telling me how much he wants to start boxing. He too is 13 and was bullied in primary school. I know deep down it’s a great idea, but I keep telling him he has the most beautiful nose and I like it where it is! But this drive, this passion I see in his eyes is bigger than that. I saw the same drive in this old man’s eyes. I was drawn into his world, and I eagerly listened and appreciated his stories.
We made his day, we gave him the chance to talk and we listened. But, he did more for me than I did for him. I love listening to people’s stories, especially the elderly who have led the most amazing lives, have a wealth of experience and have interesting, important things to say and share. He made me realise something that I have always ‘known’, but never actually ‘do’, that sometimes we just need to stop and forget about all the things we ‘need’ to get done, they will get done at some stage, and we need to make time for the opportunities that present themselves. Opportunities that help us grow as people and expand our knowledge and depth of understanding about each other and life in general.
I’m so glad we met Chris that day, I walked away from this grocery trip with so much more than the obvious. I walked away with the knowledge that we gave an old man the chance to tell his story, and that maybe we need to look beyond our fears of “what if”, when our kids come to us with a passion, a drive to do something that we are scared of. Sometimes, things in this world are bigger than us and they need to become reality.
We finally got to the restaurant, only 15 minutes late, to meet my sister and her beautiful family. And boy, did we have a story to tell!