I was sitting in Walgreens the other day waiting on a prescription. I was thinking, so this is how it’s going to be? Sitting there under the fluorescents, everything takes on this kind of fuzzy hue, like a dream, or a Spielberg fade in. It was like I was watching myself in a documentary from some place in the future, sitting there on my little pensioner couch in my little pensioner house. I could almost hear a scratchy soundtrack with some nondescript nasally 30’s big band singer warbling a tune about stardust and sunrises.
A couple of older ladies sat next to me, one staring intently at her cell phone, brows furrowed, tapping the screen every now and then with a grandly manicured nail that looked formidable enough to slice deli meat, the other sitting patiently, her cane leaning against her chair. A line formed in front of us, other folks waiting for drugs.
“Are you in line?” an old gentleman asked.
“No, just waiting,” I said.
He nodded and shuffled forward. We barrel through life at 100 miles an hour, only to find ourselves sitting next to strangers in a queue at the pharmacy. It’s the great equalizer, these lines. Hurry up and wait, the refrain goes. Whether it’s the DMV or the movies or the grocery store, if you are middle class or poverty stricken, it doesn’t matter. You will take your place in line just like everybody else.
Is this all there is? Is this our fate? Are we doomed to loiter at drug stores with our aching backs and creaky knees whiling away what little time we have left in dismal rows of ailing humanity? I thought of all of that, too, as I sat waiting my turn. We all know what waits at the end of the line—it’s what waits for all of us.
But then, here’s the strange part. See, I’m thinking all this, about my ultimate demise, how we’re all going to die, blah, blah, blah and so forth, but I also can’t shake the fact that in midst of all the gloom is this wonderful sense of contentment.
I have found myself in pits of despair so black and cold that I never thought I would see the sun again, but its warming rays always returned. I have experienced highs so sweet that I never thought anything could top the latest one. The sun comes up every morning with the possibility of a better day than yesterday, with another chance to right the wrongs or choose a different path. Therein lays the ultimate truth, the one thing that brings peace to an otherwise tumultuous life full of peaks and valleys—tomorrow is a new day. That was a hard lesson to learn as a young man, because everything had to be settled right now and failure was weakness. Fortunately, I realized a long time ago that failure is just another word for opportunity. What I miss today I will hit tomorrow--as one of my crusty old uncles used to say, “We’ll give ‘er hell another time.”
I like where I am. The line is definitely longer behind me than in front of me, but that’s okay, because it’s a lot more peaceful at this end.