I’m sitting in the Berlin subway. It smells of stale smoke and cold sweat. I still haven’t gotten used to this perfume after all these years, so I keep some peppermint oil in my bag. I rub it on my palms and, huffing, try to survive the journey.
Across from me is an eleven-year-old boy, part of a crew of noisy school kids. Something about him is different – he’s calmer, more centered somehow. He’s wearing a pair of brand-new suede shoes, spotless except for one small smudge.
Suddenly, the boy notices the dirt on his shoe, which is probably thanks to the push and shove on the way into the train. He becomes noticeably nervous and begins trying to rub the smudge off with his finger.
A summer in rubber boots
I smile to myself, remembering scenes from my early childhood, in my grandmother’s village. I had finally gotten the new, blue sneakers that I had been dreaming of and couldn’t bring myself to wear them. I was terrified that I would destroy their virginal perfection by shoving my sweaty feet in there.
So, much to grandmother’s dismay, I spent the steaming hot summer in a pair of bright yellow rubber boots. It wasn’t a problem for me – just as long as my sneakers were spared. I stuck to this plan stubbornly all the way ‘til the next vacation – only to discover that just when I was finally ready to wear my perfect sneakers, I had outgrown them.
The perfect moment is NOW
Of course, I was devastated. Still, I kept the madness up for years. If I particularly loved a piece of clothing, I only wore it to special occasions. I waited for the perfect moment patiently, and, if it didn’t materialize, then the garment in question remained, virginal, in the closet. Needless to say, the perfect moment rarely came. Instead, I waited and waited for that one time that would suit.
Luckily, that changed in time. I realized at some point that it doesn’t really make sense, this way of operating. I stopped waiting and took a bold leap right into life. Today is today. This moment is SPECIAL. The next one, too. All of life is a gift, each and every minute should be celebrated. If you’re constantly waiting for something better to happen, life may just pass you by. Opportunities will go unnoticed, unrecognized, no matter how often life presents them to us. It’s tragic.
Of course, it’s not about the brand-new sneakers. Rather, it’s about not being greedy with life. Nor with love, with presence, gratitude, honesty, compassion and support. It might suddenly be too late, and the moment has passed you by.
If there’s something you want to say, do it now. Why WAIT? For what? Life is not perfect, and it can go by in a flash. We should dive into its richness and never be satisfied with just 60%.
The boy seems satisfied. The spot is gone, he relaxes. If he only knew about the journey he just sent me on. He smiles at me, shyly, and I nod at him like an old, wise lady and think: “may you remain calm in the face of future spots. Live!”