The common man (or woman)

As some of you know, Sid and I have a Winnebago RV we affectionately call the Pugabego in honor of the three pugs we loved to travel with when we bought it ten years ago. Last weekend we had the joy of driving it to see grandbaby and our kids down in New York. Given winter’s lingering grip on the east coast this year, it was not safe yet to de-winterize the plumbing and we arrived too late on Friday night to plug into the outside electric outlet at my kids’ home. So we stayed at one of our favorite accommodations, the local Walmart.

Yep. That’s what we do. And at most Walmarts nationally, RV boondocking is encouraged. Guests of the lovely large parking lots such as us enjoy breakfast at the McDonalds which are often at these 5-Star shopping resorts, not to mention the place to buy forgotten sundries and last minute surprises for grandbabies. Truthfully, the stays are much nicer when our sinks and bathroom have been de-winterized. The prediction for sub freezing nights last weekend, however, prevented us from removing the anti-freeze so instead we enjoyed the lovely bathroom facilities at the local Walmart.

As I was brushing my teeth and washing my face at the Walmart public restroom, it occurred to me how some of my peers would look at me and think I’m nuts. After all, I am a rather high profile attorney, writing books and just gave a national seminar last week. Yet it was not until I had the thought of how others would see me rather than how I saw myself that the judgmental thought occurred. I was happy as could be getting ready at the public restroom. That was the true feeling in my heart. So where does that come from?

When I was young I can remember my mother being very upset with me about being “prost”. That is the Yiddish word for “common”. “Oy! We spent so much money for this house and you want to date the baker’s son.” So if my nouveau riche parents were so typical in their world views on this issue, where did I get this instinctive sense so different than theirs? I really liked David who I only thought of as a nice guy who bowls in our BBG/AZA league. At the time I was not a believer in Yeshua, but as I look back now, I believe He was with me even then though I didn’t know Him.

When I was recently down for the count with influenza, I had such low energy that I could barely speak. And I am normally a very high energy person. Sid always teases me that my motto is “Why live one life when you can live two?” I cram a lot of living into each day. The long recovery from extreme fatigue gave me a visceral understanding of those who tell me they have low energy. I did lie in their shoes! I now understand at a level I couldn’t have possibly done so before, so yes, there was a benefit to having the flu. . .

Life offers us so many opportunities to strip away the accoutrements and live closer to Him. And when we do, we actually feel the vibrancy of life more palpably. One thought that did cross my mind as I saw myself in the Walmart bathroom mirror is what a blessing that we have the RV and a home. Many who may use the facilities are homeless, living in their cars. We have met them on our journeys. Living a small piece of their lives is a blessing to understand people who otherwise I would not have the opportunity to share a life experience with in this way. Similarly, I hated being bedridden with the flu but am so grateful for the new knowledge gained of my brothers and sisters who live with lower energy levels, or who feel chronically tired. What a terrible feeling that I now understand. I have a deeper ability for compassion on this issue.

You don’t have to give up your bathrooms or get sick to walk down this road of knowing your fellow travelers in life at a deeper level. The start is to try to think of the other person as yourself. You’re getting antsy waiting for a cashier. As you look at the person scanning the items, try to feel the challenge of all the cash register buttons to get just right, the pressure knowing people are anxiously waiting, how tired your feet are after standing for hours waiting for a break, the worry about your sick child at home with a caregiver you have to pay for, the unpaid bills. How are you feeling if that were your reality? Your grumpy child is tired. You are too. But he or she is only 2, or 12, or 15, or 40. How did you feel when you were that age? Or now that you’re older, do you have the wisdom to understand?

As I looked at my reflection in the Walmart mirror and these thoughts flooded in, I thanked HaShem, through Yeshua, for making a very prost moment so full of Him. And I realized He allowed a glimpse of how He sees me, not with the trappings deemed important by others, but rather, by how He sees each of us, with love.

Shabbat shalom.

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