As my husband and I leisurely enjoyed our late lunch at a Main Street restaurant in downtown Hyannis, our attention was diverted outside the window to a woman on the street. She was talking to the maitre’d and she was thoroughly decked out in the most colorful garb consisting of pink sneakers and a heavy blue winter coat with a bright yellow scarf encircling her neck. She also wore a colorful ball cap and she was bedecked with large dark sunglasses, obviously ready for any weather. The day was cloudy, but about 62 degrees, so that she was clearly overdressed. Beside her stood a bright blue baby carriage, devoid of baby but filled instead with all of her earthly belongings. She was clearly homeless, and I wondered what had brought her to this place in her life; what was her story? As I mused over this I began to realize that everything that was important to her was in that baby carriage. As the meaning of this began to sink in I thought of my own belongings and what I truly treasured of them. Can we fit what we most treasure into a baby carriage?
I was just wondering…….
Some years ago my mother was contacted by someone who thought they might be related to her. The individuals involved were led to her by the meager contents left in an old shoe box by their father when he died. No one in the family had previously known of the existence of the shoebox, nor its contents, but it was clearly treasured by the keeper of the box and remained a secret until his death. You probably know people yourself who keep a box of treasures. Many of us had an old cigar box as children where we kept our precious found stones, post cards from faraway places, little mementos and secrets that meant everything to us. My father had an envelope filled with his secret treasures that we discovered when he died. It was filled with all of his artistic endeavors that were stifled by the demands of the time when he lived, stuffed into an envelope and stuffed inside of him, never again to be released until his death. Beautiful poems and tentative drawings from his younger self, untarnished by the vicissitudes of life, revealed themselves after years of being concealed.
Then there are those of you who have collections such as cars, dolls, teacups, stamps, comic books, baseball cards, art, and so on. Maybe you treasure most you house or your car, your jewelry, or perhaps your job or your bank account. Whatever it is, your initial response may be something material.
But what if a disaster were to occur and you had 24 hours to collect your most important valuables into something the size of that baby carriage? Besides your loved ones, what would you preserve? Or if the time were only hours or minutes, what would it be? What is most important to you?
As we left the restaurant the homeless woman was still out there chatting away, carriage in hand. She seemed surprisingly unperturbed about her situation. As the sun broke through the thick clouds above I noticed the smile on her face. She seemed strangely happy, content. Well, she had no bank account to worry about, no car payments to stress over. I began to think about what we could learn from her.
So what would you pile into that small carriage? I guess I would have my family photos and some sentimental mementos. But I realized as I left that scene that what is most important is in my heart and cannot be taken from me no matter what happens. What she reminded me of was that the love I feel for my family, friends, and my memories and experiences are what I most covet from this interesting journey called life. What would be in your treasure box?
I was just wondering……..