A few years ago I read the book The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. I enjoyed the book, and it’s probably time to read it again because I can’t remember most of what happened in it. But, there was one character who stood out for me – Leo Gursky – as someone I already am, or someone I could see myself turning into. Leo is an elderly man who has moved from Poland to New York. He spends his days terrified that he will die and that no one will notice him gone. He does things like make sure he goes out for a cup of coffee and then “accidentally” dropping his change all over the place. His goal is to make sure that someone notices him every day. That way if something happens to him, at least someone would be able to say – yes, I saw Leo, he was out getting coffee.
At the heart of his issue is loneliness. I think that’s why his character spoke so loudly to me. With all the moving we have done over the past 10 years, loneliness has been a common theme in my life. There have absolutely been days where I have felt like Leo. Where I felt like at least if I went out and did something to make people notice my existence (like dropping my change all over the place), people would know that I was alive.
I think this is also why the candy man at church speaks so loudly to me. He is out every Sunday passing out his candy and making friends at the church. If he’s absent one week there are 20 kids who are upset that he’s not there, and asking him if he’s ok the next week when he returns.
Believe it or not this actually fits in to my 44 days of happiness.
It was cold this morning. We are far enough south that we didn’t get any of that New England snow storm, but it was still cold. And I was feeling lazy. And I didn’t really want to walk. Even though I know that walk is so important for my spiritual wellbeing. Fortunately, Dottie ran and jumped in the car before I could break her heart, so we ended up heading out on the path anyway.
I have my regulars that I see on the path. There are a lot of seniors, but they’re all in Florida now – so it’s mostly other moms like me. There is one other lady who is there walking no matter the weather. We laugh because I’m from Canada and she’s from Hawaii and we are the only people who can bear the heat and the cold all year to do our walks. The walk is as spiritually important for her as it is for me. We always stop and have a little chat when we run into each other. Sometimes we walk together, but we both have said how the quiet morning walk is what sets us up for the day -so often we just chat and then head on our separate ways.
Some days when I see my regulars on the path I think of Leo. Things aren’t as lonely now as they used to be but I’m still always so happy to see my regular people. The other ones who know how important that morning walk is.
So, today my moment of happiness comes from acknowledging that sometimes life is lonely, and like Leo it’s important to have those people who notice you. My happiness comes from having those people on my daily walk.