The events over the last few days have felt displaced but on track and aligned, oddly enough. I sat at McDonald’s this morning enjoying a cup of coffee for the second day in a row, writing some of my thoughts in my trusted notebook. I was contemplating a recent post I did on Facebook about Keanu Reeves and his convictions to be himself in face of adversity, grief and tragedy.
I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Keanu in the mid 80’s on a TV comedy series for ABC. He remains the consistent gentle, genuine soul today as he was back then, despite the tragedies in his life and recent criticism by the movie industry.
I sat quietly sipping my coffee and was about to post on Facebook a petty comment (which is unlike me) about a certain individual’s multiple daily self-photos and posts about himself when I thought of Keanu and I stopped. I thought, if I had $114 million dollars, rather than $4.75 in my back account, would I be this petty? Would I give $80 million to my movie crew who struggled to make ends meet while I racked-in millions? Would I keep the millions I earned for myself? Would I still ride the subway, shop at Value Village for the creative finds I love? Would I sit in a McDonald’s restaurant, for that fact? If I didn’t have to, would I?
And then I thought of Robin Williams, who used to insist in his movie contracts on the employment of 10 homeless people on set. And then, I looked around the restaurant and felt deep compassion for myself and empathy for the people around me, who by most accounts are considered castaways for not making better eating choices by current peer socially standards.
At one table, a single mom with her son, a couple of rough-looking men eating alone at another, and a mid-life couple looking battered by life … no hipsters were present. Nowadays, most associate McDonald’s with lower income and less consciously aware individuals, for if one had the awareness and education, one would surely not eat at McDonald’s. But there are people all around us who continue to do the best with what they have… and McDonald’s wraps can be the best! It’s all subjective.
Yesterday was the first day in a long time that I stood in line at McDonald’s. After ordering, I waited to the side for my meal. A tattered-looking man who stood behind me, stepped up and ordered a coffee and muffin. He struggled to find the change from his pocket, asking how much an additional muffin would cost. Embarrassed and feeling the pressure of the line of people behind him, he counted his dimes and nickels while the staff waited patiently. Clearly he wouldn’t or didn’t have enough change… and I understood! I’ve had many of those moments in my own life. So, I leaned forward and asked him if I could pay for his coffee and muffin. He accepted with a simple ‘thank you’. The girl behind the counter gave me a nod and asked me if I’d be paying for the extra muffin, which I said I would. I encouraged him to take back the change he left on the counter and I swiped my McDonald’s gift card.
The gift card had been giving to me by a radio station. My take home pay is less than $1000 per month and I had $4.75 in my bank account after monthly expenses. So, I could related to this gentle soul’s search for change. The gift card was a means through which I could eat and enjoy a simple cup of coffee over the last few days and I was happy to share, although far from $114 million.
Last week, the person I had been having an intimate/personal relationship with, reduced my relationship contributions to sex and money under the guise of love, or so it came across. Hurt feelings were shared, an abrupt awakening and end that will assuredly guide us to a truer and more honest path, individually. So, out of respect for myself and his feelings, I took back the financial responsibility he had offered at the beginning and throughout the relationship. It wasn’t his to begin with. It was mine.
As I looked around McDonald’s today, I was reminded that at one time, the restaurant chain was revered for its innovative corporate charitable work with sick kids and their families, something that has escaped the public eye as of late. Not that the quality of their food couldn’t be and isn’t being improved, but there is a place for everything and everyone in this world.
And, once again, I noticed the people in the restaurant. I notice myself… and I noticed a reality of life that is easily forgotten. Had I forgotten my own humanity? Had I forgotten to appreciate my own humanity? Had I forgotten others? Had someone recently forgotten mine?
And then, reality hit home! Something I had forgotten … I am not defined by the expectations of others, by status, money, social media likes, a relationship, the number of people I know, or what they, or I, do for a living.
I felt a coming home of sorts, an alignment within myself. And it became clearer that whether I have $114 million or a gift card, I am this person. I am a doer not a follower or talker. I am the change I want to see in the world. I am this wonderful, beautiful, perceptive, self-aware person who sees beauty, potential and perfection in all things… I am a strong, wise, talented and enlightened woman whose vision and transformation are powerful onto themselves and unto the world…. and I’ve paid witness to it all.
There were no heavenly trumpets sounding and no likes on Facebook. In fact, no one knew I was a radio announcer when I gifted this gentlemen a coffee and a muffin, or when I came to this epiphany. With $4.75 in my bank account and a mere gift card, he and the moment, gifted me.
So, would I, if I had $114 million dollars, rather than $4.75 in my back account, give $80 million to my movie crew who struggled to make ends meet while I racked-in millions? Would I insist on the employment of 10 homeless people in my movie contract? Would I still ride the subway?… Offer selfless acts of kindness… shop at Value Village for the creative finds I love? Would I sit in a McDonald’s restaurant, if I didn’t have to?
…. I do believe I would!