I Secretly Wanted it Anyway

3 Jan

After a nice workout at my gym, Ray and I decided to walk up the street for some lunch.  Ray is personal trainer at Crunch and is a master of Par Core – the art of conditioning the body and mind by learning how to overcome physical obstacles in an urban environment.  In other words, Ray is really good at jumping over things in San Francisco.  I always tease Ray by calling him a ninja because he beautifully displays his stealth and physical potency through humility and compassion.

On our search for food we stumbled upon a little mom-and-pop deli, which specialized in the art of shwarma assembly.  The man behind the counter greeted us warmly.  He had dark skin, a thick black moustache, and a white apron, which lay snug around his bulging belly.  His apron was smeared with an impressive display of yellows, reds, and greens.  They must have been from the food and sauces that he prepared for his costumers that day. 

“What would you like, my friend?” he asked in a deep Arabic accent.  His eyes were warm and his smile implored me to smile back.  I did without hesitation. 

I asked for the chicken shwarma.  He sent the order to the lady-cook at the prep counter.  Ray ordered his food and we sat at the table to wait.  Five minutes later, the lady walked over with two plastic baskets, each cradling a sumptuous wrap of Middle Eastern righteousness.  As she approached us, I notice a frownish display on her face, as if she was guilty of a culpable crime.   I could feel the muscles in my face naturally transforming from a smile to a mimic of her frown.  I could not imagine a reason for sadness related to the delicious morsel of food that was about to be placed in front of us.   She put the baskets on our table and looked at for her husband, who was watching the situation unfold from behind the counter.

“We accidentally made a mixed turkey and lamb sandwich for you,” he said with subtle affliction.  “We can make you another one just with chicken.”

In the first 100th of a second following his apology I caught my mind dispatching the news to my emotional center.  “I regret to inform you that your expectation (a chicken shwarma) has been begrudged,” said Allen’s brain to Allen.  “You are instructed to be displeased with this situation.”

Nonetheless, I had intercepted this message and immediately transmitted to my emotional center the following orders: “My expectations are full of crap and should be obliterated into outer space.  You are instructed to be grateful for the sandwich that you are currently receiving.”

“Roger that,” replied emotion.  “Changing course at 180 degrees from negative to positive – over. Please taxi into positive mental state position and hold until transformation has been complete.”

“Copy that, over.  Waiting for transformation and instructions for how to respond to lady with sandwich,” replied mind.  (Boy am I a nerd.)

My inner-communication took place in the span of milliseconds, of course.  I put my hands together in gratitude and assured the lady that I would be very happy with a mixed chicken-lamb sandwich.  I threw a little smirk her way and said, “I was secretly hoping that it would be mixed with the two meets anyway.”  She seemed satisfied with my remark and nodded in agreement.

Then the man walked up to us from behind the counter. “You two deserve a cookie,” he said with a magnanimous grin.  “It’s for free. You let me know when you are done and we’ll get you a fresh baked cookie.”  I couldn’t help but send 3 or 4 thank-you’s to him.”

After finishing our sandwiches, Ray and I stood up.  “Ok, it’s time for dessert, gentleman,” the man said. “Which cookie would you like?”

I picked the white chocolate cookie and Ray picked the chocolate chip.  I couldn’t help but smile with joy as I ate the most delicious cookie ever! It was filled with, softness, butterness, sugarness, harmonyness, awareness.  (Yes I know the ‘ness’ is unnecessary, but it’s my story and I like to go Dr. Suess-style and make up words). 

Feeling anger or dissatisfaction from un-met expectations is a bitch-of-a-feeling.  I definitely learned to be grateful within that first 100th of a second.  Such a tiny dwarf of time passing is all it takes to send a heart on a path of either suffering…or joy.   Make the choice. 


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