I stopped at a Fred Meyer in Tillamook to use the bathroom, and I was in a bad mood. I was irritable because it was hot, and wondering why so much of the Oregon coast seems to be traffic and ugly buildings and asphalt everywhere. I was looking out at this sea of cars in the parking lot and then looking at this sea of stuff inside the store and having a global meltdown about all the Big Problems of the World: too many people, too much junk, too much time spent shopping, human insensitivity and injustice, too much junky food, too much pollution, not enough preservation of nature, etc. etc. I was in a bad way.
On my way out of the bathroom, I stopped to read the notice board. Someone was selling her boat. Someone else wanted to rent out his backhoe. Someone else found a lost dog. And then I saw this piece of paper just tacked up on the board (the one in the photo above.)
Someone had taken a plain white piece of paper and typed on it, "Take What You Need" and underneath were words on little rip-off tabs: "Happiness" and "Healing" and "Kindness." There must have been a lot of other words, too, but people had already taken the words they needed.
And, in that moment, standing in this concrete box of a big store, I felt such a swelling of profound awe that someone had woken up, typed up this piece of paper and then traveled to this store and stuck it on the board. Nothing to gain, nothing to sell, just a gift to the world. The tired, cynical, weary, overwhelmed, anxious, worn-out world/me.
The word "gratitude" was gone; someone else needed it. But, I didn't need to rip it off, because I already had found it. I was grateful to be reminded that I can see beauty or I can see ugliness. I can feel anger or I can feel gratitude. I can be cynical or I can keep my sense of wonder. That paper reminded me--and I am so grateful for that--that I have a choice to take what I need for the life that I want.