I find that life lessons don’t typically happen in places where you would normally expect them. I am more likely to receive a life lesson while standing in line at the grocery store than in a pew at church or while praying to the Divine.
The greatest life lesson I received on gratitude was sitting in a nail salon.
I had just bought a new (to me) car a few weeks prior. It was sitting nice and shiny within viewing distance of the nail salon window.
This car was was a huge feat for me, considering that a year prior, the bank had denied me a loan for my previous car, which was a fraction of the cost.
At the time, I was trying to get my car in my name after my recent divorce. To do that, I needed to prove that I was able to make the payments on my own. According to the bank, between what I owed on the car and my current monthly income, I could not afford it. They denied my loan request.
Thankfully, I was able to get a personal loan from a very generous friend.
As cars do, my car started acting up less than a year later. Every couple weeks something new would come up.
As a single mom with three kids, I needed a vehicle that:
2. Didn’t cost me a few hundred dollars every few weeks
I realized I needed to off-load this car while it was still working and before it crapped out on me while I still owed $9,000 on it.
So, I started looking for a new vehicle. I was anxious looking for a new vehicle on my own, but hoped that my new job and pay raise I had gotten would help. It did. I was able to get a newer vehicle.
On paper, I could afford this vehicle. Barely. They had to stretch the terms of the loan over a six year period in order to get the monthly payment to a figure I could afford.
Even as I was signing the papers, I was nervous. I didn’t know how it was going to work out financially, but I convinced myself it would. Somehow.
Back to sitting in the nail salon: My shiny new car that I could barely afford was sitting in view of the window. I was getting my nails done, so by the looks of things, I was doing okay.
And I was.
I could barely afford my car.
I could barely afford to get my nails done.
I was a single mom working full-time.
I was also going to school part-time.
I was dealing with a lot of emotional issues post-divorce.
I was dealing with a lot of emotional issues post-Christianity.
It was a very raw time for me.
I was exhausted and worn out, but pushing forward.
As you do.
I sat quietly as the manicurist polished my nails. The gloomy January day made the low-cost, no frills salon seem more drab than usual. I could smell the pungent aroma of the nail salon chemicals, and I could see the acetone and paint stains on the manicurist’s booth.
I wasn’t in the most chipper of moods.
Much to my surprise, the man doing my nails struck up a conversation with me.
“That your car?” he asked.
“Yes, it is,” I said.
“It new?” he asked, in his broken English.
“Yes, I just got it.”
“Oh. It nice. It really nice.”
As this man continued to do my nails, he continuously looked out the window at my new car.
Finally, the curious gaze gave way to a wistful look.
A few moments later, he said something that stopped me in my tracks.
He said, in a slow whisper, not even to me, more to himself: “Someday. Someday.”
And then he looked away quietly.
Here I sat, a single mom with three kids, struggling to make life work, and someone wished they had something I had.
It left me breathless.
What else did I have that others would want, I thought?
I had a job.
My kids were healthy.
I was healthy.
I was paying my bills. Barely, but I was paying them.
I had a roof over my head and food on my table.
I had a new (to me) car that worked with no issues whatsoever.
I was most certainly living someone’s “someday”.
I realized that I had so much to be thankful for. Even in the storm. Even in the uncertainty. I was extremely blessed.
There are people that could only dream of the life I was leading at that time, and here I was, thinking life was pretty crummy.
That was humbling.
Now, when I get down on myself, I think of this man in the nail salon, and I remind myself that I am living someone’s “someday”.
And I remind myself to be grateful.
Because I am, and always have been, extremely blessed.