Woe is me, I thought.
I can’t afford this expensive face wash and the night cream that goes with it.
Yeah, I actually thought that thought. And felt I was perfectly justified in thinking it.
If there’s anything I realize with certainty as I grow older it’s that Target is a quintessential hub for learning about life. Today was no different.
And no, I don’t mean the kind of lesson where you determine that it is probably unacceptable as an adult to enter with the purpose of purchasing new dish soap and leave with twenty-one cans of discounted Pringles. Or how to calculate the exact day that the leftover Valentine’s candy will go on 90% clearance. Although these are valuable teachings.
As I was standing in line to buy just the face wash (what a tragedy) I was eavesdropping on the conversation the lady in front of me was having with the cashier. She was buying a perplexing blend of duplicate items (tons of bread, diapers, pens) and the red-shirted worker couldn’t help but look at her quizzically.
“Donations,” explained the lady. As I stared at the assorted gum and lip gloss flavors she went on to tell her how she made weekly care baskets for people at the homeless shelter by her house.
I zoomed in on one particular point of her conversation and it rattled around in my brain for hours after.
“It’s all about your attitude and your gratitude, my mother would always say.”
It was at that moment that my attitude and my gratitude took a little 180 degree roller coaster ride inside my head. You were right, mom.
Here I am despairing over the fact that I can’t afford lotion to slather on my face when the lady in front of me just rang up a three hundred dollar purchase on items that weren’t even for her. For people who didn’t even have bread, or pens. I just ate a sandwich and have enough pens rolling around in the backseat of my car to build a pen-house. Living in Orange County where it can seem like everyone and their mother’s got the best stuff, it’s almost impossible to think about how, in another country people are walking miles and miles to just get a drink of fresh water. When you’re not thinking about people who can’t even put bread on the table, your measly meal of a sandwich can pale compared to that person having a steak dinner at a five-star restaurant.
Sometimes it’s all too easy to get caught up in the things we don’t have instead of focusing on what we do. Constantly pursuing an attitude of gratitude can be tiring. But it can also fill your life with meaning you might not have recognized if you go around looking at everyone’s fast cars and fancy clothes. Your regular car and normal clothes are fancy to more people than you could imagine.
Next time I step through those double doors, I’m going to do it with a perspective of thanks- thanks I have a car to drive there and a purse to put my wallet in. And people who care that I got from point A to point B safely, places to go afterwards. The whole shebang.
I look forward to whatever my future Target runs are going to teach me. Leave a message in the comments, let us know your thoughts.
LilyAnne is a writer waiting for the day she’s not too distracted trying to find the perfect pizza so she can write a novel that turns into a movie. During her time at Chapman University she studied Creative Writing, the impressive ability of people to walk with their heads face-down in their phones and not run into a pole, and the art of making one meal stretch into three even though she’s better at making three meals into one. One day she’ll travel the world with an army of cats, but for now you can find her at lilyandwrites.com.