Tuesday night 6: 15 PM Did you notice happiness? Did you notice the janitor playing basketball by himself? Did you notice one or both or neither? He was a wiry man whose head of hair was almost completely silver gray. His bucket of cleaning supplies just off to the side of the basketball hoop in front of Ladha. Aquamarine tight-fitting gloves on both hands, he was shooting a basketball into the hoop repeatedly, tirelessly, and gracefully. Yes, gracefully. Like just any other student in a rush to get to the bus to a meeting, I was speed-walking with my hands stuffed into my jacket pockets. I had a sheet of notes to scrutinize but I had fortunately kept that stuffed into my pockets until the bus. So, when I rushed out from Ladha, I witnessed the elegance of the man playing basketball. I’d seen him before. He normally had a stern expression but as he put the ball hoop after hoop, he had a light smile brightening his face. He looked so happy.
Happy, that doesn’t seem as showy a word as ecstatic or thrilled. Happy, a calm, satisfied happy that was beautiful to witness. A happy that induced a calm happy in me.
So, did you notice neither, one or both?
If neither, you probably were on your phone, maybe studying, maybe texting, or very focused on getting the next destination, or thinking deeply about things. I don’t blame you. I do all of these all the time. You were probably doing something good. But for fun, the next time you walk out and about, stuff your phone into your pocket and take in the evening view.
Maybe you just noticed the man playing basketball but missed the details. Once you choose to be aware, you’ll start noticing everything.
We’re not the only ones observing. The man also paused, scored another basket, and made a brief moment of eye contact. Then, he smiled with just a tiny extra burst of energy and tipped his head as if to say, “This is great.” I nodded back. And then he returned to his basketball. Who knows what else there is this story? What else do basketball mean to him? I didn’t know. I’ll probably never know because I was only meant to witness that beauty of that moment before picking my pace back up and continuing on my way, on my own journey of life.
You never know what you’ll notice if you look.