Friday, March 24, 2017

A Lesson in Joy

I was at The Salvation Army recently to pick up something for a client. As I was walking in the doors, there was a young man walking out with his grocery box. in his small box of groceries, they had placed a single, small bottle of soda in the box(which I've never seen before). 

This man, who appeared to have intellectual disabilities, was as happy as anyone that I've ever seen in my life. He showed me his bottle of soda and delightedly told me that he hadn't had a soda in years and that he was going to drink this one today. He was grinning ear-to-ear, his glee contagious to all around him. 

After a moment, he paused in his giddy dance of joy and noticed my empty hands. He asked, somewhat somberly, if I was getting a box of food, as well. I explained to this sweet young man that I was a nurse getting a car seat for a client and was not picking up food for myself. 

He looked confused and asked me if that meant I wouldn't get a bottle of soda. I replied that no, I wouldn't. His face, moments before filled with absolute joy, fell and he began waving back on forth on his feet as if in absolute misery. I tried to explain to him that I didn't need any soda and was not upset in the least. 

His face then lit up again with an idea. He asked me with excitement if I wanted to share his Coke. He told me that we could sit in the sun and share his soda and was so excited at the prospect that he was shaking with joy. 

I didn't, of course, share this young man's soda. He deserved to enjoy every bit himself. His soda didn't fill my stomach but his kindness fed my soul.

That afternoon, on a day in which I'd been incredibly stressed before, I sat on park bench in the sunshine and had shared some conversation with a kind, young man. This complete stranger sipped on his small bottle of soda and grinned as we talked. He was drawing every ounce of happiness out of that simple moment that he could.

After he drank the last drop of the carmel colored soda, we parted ways. I have never again had the privilege of meeting that young man again but this memory will forever be a reminder to me: that gratitude and joy are both choices that we make on a moment-to-moment basis. 

I will never be the same. 


  1. That is so sweet! I need to sit back for a minute when I am in a bad mood and realize people have it worse than I do and things could be worse. I love when these moments happen, it makes the day special.

  2. What a beautiful memory. I love pure joy, it's so contagious.

    1. It is contagious in the most wonderful way, isn't it?

  3. Aww that's lovely. Many years ago, when I worked as a barmaid at a holiday place, a family came in who had a little boy with learning and developmental disabilities. I smiled at him, as I generally do with any children, and he gradually edged closer to me so I spoke to him. He was very shy, but he stuck by me so I kept speaking to him. When I saw him watching people doing a dance, I asked if he wanted to learn it and he did, so I danced with him. After that, he followed me everywhere, wanting to do what I was doing. So I let him 'help' me wipe tables, etc. His family kept asking me if he was in my way, but I said he was fine, and he stuck with me all night. At the end of the night, he hugged me. His parents then thanked me for being so kind to him. They said that they realised I must have been behind on my jobs from letting him help and would have to stay late, but that I had really made him happy. They said people generally avoided and ignored him, and he didn't have friends - he had told them that I was his best friend and he was going to marry me. I've never forgotten that little boy. He was so sweet, and it is nice to remember that sometimes a bit of minor inconvenience to yourself to give someone some of your time can mean so much to them. After all this rambling I've now done, the reason this reminded me of him, is that he was also such a pure and joyful little child, and it made me sad that people weren't willing to take a little time to acknowledge him and learn that themselves.

  4. That is such a lovely story of an encounter which obviously brought joy to you both. How thoughtful was that young man and how lovely that you gave him a moment of your time.