Food courts, after airports, make for great human observatories. People, most of them, are in a hurry. It’s not a destination they’ve chosen to relax at. A quick bite before a meeting or a movie leads them here. Or sometimes we find ourselves here because there’s something for everyone and every budget. Recently, at one such busy food court in the city mall, I shared a table with an elderly man; my guess is he was in his '70s. He’d ordered a burger from McDonald’s. He was clearly not familiar with the limited menu and took his time to make a selection. Perhaps, he was eating there for the first time. I watched him tear open the ketchup sachet and make a smiley (with the ketchup) on the burger. He ate slowly, enjoying his meal until the last bite. We exchanged a smile. He told me that his kids had suggested that the next time he was at the mall, he should try the meal. He looked pleased. He wiped his hands, threw the wrapping in the bin, and left. And I sat there thinking to myself — Isn’t it amazing that such people still exist?
When my order was ready. I did the same. I made a smiley on my burger and ate my meal with love; both respecting the food in front of me and relishing the experience. What it did for me can be easily labelled as just another chapter in the book, Stop and Smell the Roses. But, it was more than that. It led me to think that no matter how old we grow, we should not stop relishing life’s tiniest gifts.
We should cut the cake and sing the birthday song. Forty-six or sixty, we shouldn’t be ashamed of celebrating a special day or a moment. So what if this is your byline number 1,000 or your fifth medal in a swimming championship or your third promotion at work? As suggests a popular commercial for second-hand goods, so what if it is a pre-loved vehicle it is your first car! True that.
Over the years, I have seen people content with little, only to realise that they’re grateful for everything. These are not people who go on vacations or eat fancy meals because they have social media accounts. These are people who work hard and most importantly don’t take even a single, happy moment for granted. They pray not just when in trouble, but in good times. And it’s easy to be one of them.
It may sound like a jaded idea, but we can channel our thoughts and fill our worlds with happy moments. It sounds like a good time to start. We can begin to make note of the good things that happen to us in our daily lives. Just like we fret about a day that has gone bad, we can smile about a day gone well. Yes, it’s that simple. We just need to remember to smile when we get no traffic on our way to work, just like we don’t fail to complain about jammed roads. Give it a try.
As for me, each time, I’d eat a burger or squeeze ketchup out of a bottle, I’d be reminded of the old man and I’d repeat in my head — Isn’t it amazing that such people exist! I hope you do too.