Taking in my surroundings I acknowledge the value of standing in the epicenter of human priority in America. And it's only appropriate that a song from my past is ringing through the supermarket speakers as I work and absorb and write. The seasonal peanut butter eggs sit in front of me with the cigarette case to my back. The tabloids screaming of infidelity and weight loss are placed in 6 strategic 'buyer potential' areas while the daily newspapers are on two racks in the front with me. In a few hours copies of the morning edition will arrive. I'll place them in stacks in a cart by the main walking area and throughout the day the stacks will shrink and disappear as shoppers grab their Sunday paper, milk and assorted necessities and luxuries. They'll read of another country's devastation, as they did last month, and some will skip to the coupon section while others reflect on the tragic loss befalling a distant neighbor, hidden on page 14.
I feel Americans are given an unfair reputation as, I can safely assume, are every other collection of humans identified as a whole by the name of their country. We do this because of the similarities a mass population shares such as language, laws, traditions and social norms. And just maybe we gain a strategic edge by blurring individualistic lines of a potential foe into one regional identity. How much easier is it to sink a distant ship than to drown a man with your own hands?
But I direct this back to the beginning at the mention of the song playing in the background. The lyrics focus on the artist's past addictions. Ironically it's a song from a CD I owned that has long since been collected and passed on to the thrift store with many other reminders of a reckless and senseless time in my own life. This was a part of the 'cleaning of my environment' as it were, to be able to start on a new path, much like the writer of the song was doing as he looked back to the bridge and sung of moving forward. And in focusing on the renewal God has made of my often frivolous and sometimes meaningful existence, I find the value in the concept of individuality.
Working with the public allows you insight into a myriad of individual personalities, which is why I work the night shift. I can only take small chunks of society at a time.
But in these little bursts of customers throughout the dark hours, the differences in their attitudes and overall perspectives of little and large events sneaks it's way through to me.
Some people are optimistic of the future. More seem pessimistic of the present while still others are not aware of anything outside their own sphere of day in and day out living. It seems inaccurate to conglomerate and package together as a mass consciousness these singular perspectives on this piece of land out here to the west.
And of course these individuals in America that I watch shopping in different aisles at 3 in the morning live their own stories. Diapers, organic produce, medications, arms full, baskets full, carts pushed up to the redhead cashier who talks to them as she rings them through. We laugh about the birthday cake for the 2 year old who doesn't even know he's two and I congratulate the lucky mailman who was off for both days the snow storms hit, and my eyes follow the select few who are looking for a clean bathroom and a warm refuge that I allow to walk around the store and pretend they might purchase something.
And as the night continues on, the morning paper makes its way onto front seats and kitchen tables and television stands. Some of the individuals in America will reflect on the individuals that are suffering through the rebellion of our shared planet. Some of these individuals residing in America will call loved ones and cry over a mutual loss traveling abroad. Others will scan the Internet to assess the damage done and any possible route to help alleviate some distant but very real pain. These particular individuals have recognised individuality. How valuable this realization is to them! No longer does the Earth appear insurmountably vast, but is acknowledged as a homestead. Disconnected no more by property lines, restricted air space or unscaleable heights these brothers and sisters of humanity mourn each loss and revel in the victorious stories of lives spared. No country, principality or nation can boast of such an insight being characteristic of their people. Only individuals. A man sitting in his living room, a child hearing the news in school, a woman on a plane passing over a broken world; individuals who decide to share the pain through their mourning souls. I think I may have found the lost species of Human I've heard so much about but have long doubted it's existence.
And as images form of Christ and the angels watching the humans trip over each other in their quest to get to where they think they need to go and survive for the sole purpose of not dying, love must've swelled for their all powerful God. This master Creator doesn't see the swarms of billions of feet below. He knows individuality. He created individuality. And he doesn't have to peek over the clouds to find a man praying; He knows the man and feels his prayer and already has His hand working through this individual's circumstances.
Easter is here again. It's my 35th. I've experienced every sort of candy known to pre-packaged holidays throughout these years and Easter has become my favorite. Chocolate is great. Spring is refreshing and Easter doesn't last 2 months like Christmas does. Fleeting thoughts of the meaning behind the cross I'm eating satiate my guilt for not being moved by 'the true meaning' of Easter anymore. In all my experiences of getting in and out of trouble, praying, thanking God for answering my prayers, getting into trouble again etc... I've allowed my idea of God to become a distant mass of 'Power' and 'Awesome...stuff' and 'Goodness' I think of occasionally when I look up into the sky. How unjust.