Wednesday, January 28, 2009

miles of smiles

Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character. - Albert Einstein

I can't get a certain smiley-faced squirrel working the pharmacy counter at my neighborhood CVS out of my head so figured I'd spill my thoughts onto this canvass and sort through them. Over the long holiday break my youngest child, Cole, acquired what seemed like his 27th cold of the season. The math behind this is rather simple and common - his older brother, the Jackal, started preschool in the fall and began bringing home more than just a daily art project. Since Jack's been around the block already, his immune system is stronger while Cole's is still learning to navigate this germ-ridden world. If you're a parent, I don't need to tell you how drastically a sick infant can completely sideswipe your groove. A dull headache becomes a way of life; REM sleep is kicked to the curb; and general angst guides you through the day. Needless to say, when I approached the counter I wasn't exactly wearing joy on my sleeve. On the contrary, I was more like an active member of a pride of so many hungry lions waiting to chew on anyone in my path with bad news, which is exactly what this guy dispensed.

Sir, that particular antibiotic needs to be mixed, so it's going to be another 20 minutes.

When I dropped off the scrip, they told me to give 30 minutes. I gave them an hour before returning only to hear they'd need another 20 minutes. It's t-minus 2 days until Christmas and I've hardly crossed anyone off my shopping list. I have not slept for shit in over a week. My sweet child is at home with fever, laden with green mucous. So why am I not losing it?

A simple, sort of goofy, smile – one that seems to be permanently burned onto my hard drive, one that quite possibly rescued me for the holidays and beyond. Here’s this kid (he seemed early-to-mid-20s, and yes, it scares me that I’m at the stage where someone that age is a kid) who may as well be standing blindfolded before a firing line, post last cigarette, and he’s delivering every word with this warm, encouraging smile. Really, he could have dropped on me that my home just burned to the ground as my entire 401k went to hell in a hand basket (wait, that did happen) and I’d have walked away feeling like I just hit the lottery. In a sense, I think I did.

Clearly there’s no shortage of anxiety or plight in the world today. It seems like everyone’s toting a bag of bricks on their back in these trying times. I have so much respect and admiration for those individuals who carry those bags around and still find it in themselves to laugh and smile. At the risk of sounding cliché or like I just saw Dead Poets Society for the first time, I have come to realize, and make it a point to remind myself, that I own this moment right now and how I spend it is completely up to me. In the same vein, I get to make the call on my attitude and how I project. It’s a very simple yet liberating concept.

I know there is a time and place for despondence and that happy-go-lucky is just not feasible all the time. Thanks to the pharmacist at CVS, I’m going to take a breath in challenging moments and check myself. Talk about a spoonful of sugar to go with that medicine.

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