Last Wednesday was my birthday. I took off from work and wandered around San Francisco, thinking, dreaming, planning…
Somehow I ended up in a gift shop on Union Street called The Enchanted Crystal. It’s my boss’s favorite place to hang out in the whole world… overflowing with shiny, sparkly, pretty stuff. Lots and lots and lots of stuff. And no dust in sight.
I wasn’t really shopping. There was nothing I needed to buy, although I did end up with a gift for my mom, whose birthday is this Thursday, and a tiny embroidered credit card wallet for myself… something my friends have been urging me to get since I usually just shove my ID and credit cards and money into my pockets loose and hope nothing gets lost.
The point is that I was attracted to the shop by the pretty colors and was just enjoying being there without the need to acquire, when the shopkeeper engaged me in conversation. We chatted about this and that, and I let slip that it was my birthday. He held out his hand and told me he had a birthday gift for me. And there it was… a sweet little red heart, almost as hard as a polished stone, but molded from plastic.
I thanked him and put the heart in my pocket. And there it will live. A daily reminder that plastic is not the enemy. It’s just one of the materials of the world. Problematic, to be sure. And something I routinely avoid. But in this case, this little plastic heart represents love from one human being to another. I put my hand in my pocket, squeeze the little man-made heart, composed of a substance that doesn’t naturally occur, and realize that the heart in my chest is connected to even this.
Is that a cheesy sentiment? Maybe so, but I’m going to need to remind myself of it today at my office birthday party, where there will surely be some type of plastic, and this weekend while I’m in Hawaii visiting my family. I’m trying to finding a ways to love people and principles at the same time, holding none of them too loosely or tightly. Life is one challenge after another, isn’t it?