By India Susanne Holden
It's possible to recognize the divine and feel the connection with our kin in the most seemingly ordinary, unlikely, and fleeting moments.
When I sat down at the bar counter, waiting to pay my lunch tab, a man shouted to the bartender, “I’ll pay for that and a drink, if the lady will have one.” Against the impulse to shut him out, I said yes. He bought me a whiskey and called me a beautiful woman. I didn’t have the heart to say, “Not exactly. I’m genderqueer.” Instead, I said, “I’ll be sure to tell my husband you said that. He’ll be tickled.”
He was a drunk with advanced skills. Expertly pushing vowels and consonants around the marbles filling his mouth with a well-practiced tongue. The thought occurred to me: “I could see him instead of judging him.” I looked into his eyes—enlarged by thick glasses and so open, so drunkenly unguarded and hopeful. He was just back, he confided to me, from damp and green Ireland. He traced his ancestral line across two seas, stopped in Fiji and played golf in the warm rain. He sums up his story, saying, “I love people. I have a beautiful life.” His eyes are moist with alcohol and feeling as he tells me this. I prioritize the emotion over the liquor. I can feel that that love is his essence. I see you, I think.
We fall into easy conversation. He’s just returned from Europe; I am from the Old World. He’s been to Munich; I grew up there. We both love Paris; we drink to the City of Light. He talks about the money he’s made and his daughter to whom he’s close. I talk about the book I’ve written, about being a life coach and tarot reader. “That’s a wonderful profession”, he says. We share our stories of becoming whiskey lovers. We even talk politics.
Unexpectedly, I love him. The shiny rims of his glasses frame his soul. I think of the famous exhortation, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” For the first time, I notice that this pronouncement entreats the listener to love “themself.” I think, Why not love this stranger by seeing him as he hopes to be seen? I’m suddenly grateful that I learned to love myself along the way and can use this feeling as a guide to loving my boozy bar neighbor. I am reminded of an exquisitely captivating book I read decades ago, That Man is You, by Louis Evely, that describes how to recognize Jesus in everyone. I notice how lovely my conversation partner is, the sensitive curve of his upper lip, the soft, yet dignified line of his jaw, the tanned skin, the waves of graying blond hair. We raise our glasses and smile. I finish my drink. We say goodbye. As I walk to the door he calls after me, “My name is…” He spells each letter of his last name with slow precision.
I’ll remember you.
Well my friend, that’s the end of this week’s post. Salute and have a beautiful, beautiful day!
India Susanne Holden is the author of Crafting a Happy Life and The World Is Better than You Think. They are a writer, teacher, speaker, workshop & seminar leader, musician, artist, personal & spiritual development coach, Reiki Master, Tarot reader, entrepreneur, and genderqueer feminist.