I should have bought it.

I should have bought it.

This week has amounted many challenges; battles of all degrees and natures sprang up like mole hills, tripping me every few steps so that I never really made it past the gunshot smoke. In terms of progress, I’m still halfway through Monday, keeled over with my hands clasped to my knees, panting. Tuesday did not wait for me, either, and Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday found no just cause to temporize on my behalf.

I’m not exactly sure why editing my book has slowed to the pace of a monad. I’m lucky if I move through five pages a day. The crazy part: I’m editing, not creating. Grammar, punctuation, deletions — the minutia. The foundation is laid, the characters fleshed out, the end has already brought the light. So why then the screeching halt? No, I really don’t want to keep the story alive; I’m more than ready to see this baby done. It’s something else. I sit there staring at the words on the page, finding that they look more like a word-search and less like a mostly-completed manuscript. The indecision is eating. me. alive. Just make a cut already, swap out that word for this one — do something! One of my most favorite books, The Forest For the Trees, devotes an entire chapter to “The Indecisive Writer”. She is me, I am her, we are the same. Blue . . . No, purple — no no green! Indigo, definitely indigo. Wait, maybe violet? This, on a very minute scale, is the war perennially active in my mind. If someone asked me to choose between two decisions, either of which would save my life, I would likely parry with “Are those my only options?”

And as for improvement, wouldn’t it stand to reason that the more time I put into this endeavor, honing my craft, imbibing the genius that has gone before me, the easier and continuously fluid writing/editing would become? Well, for me anyway, Reason is not standing. She isn’t even sitting. She’s lying flat on her back, eyes puckered shut, kicking her legs in the air, and refusing to be the least bit sensible about anything. I’m about ready grab Reason by her scrawny neck and throttle her. Oh, but she knows I need her too badly to ever risk defection. I’ll coddle her instead.

This post is entitled “I should have bought it”. I’ll get onto that now.

Yesterday was my day off. I like to be among people on my day off. This is because my sweet pup and I, we live in a cave. It’s a lovely cave, mind you, with a nice big bed, and a gorgeous tree in the way of wall-art. I am an extrovert, however. I need people’s energy, even if indirectly. Coffee-shops provide just the perfect blend of distanced interaction. Chances are, over the course of an hour, you will receive the following from a stranger: “Oh, is that one any good? I’ve read her others . . . ” or “Your purse is so cute; where did you get it?” Nothing too invasive, just easy palaver. This allows me to be of, but not in, if I don’t want to. But if the opportunity arises to start up conversation with someone interesting, all the better. After three days of running circuitous laps in my mind, I was — am — spent. Also, thanks to Mrs. Melissa Bender (www.fitnessbender.com — check her out, she’s awesome!) my body is upset with me. It’s okay, and for the best, but for now my range of motion is a bit Tin Man-ish. The point is, I was too tired, mentally and physically, to enjoy the day. Even worse, I allowed an opportunity to bless someone’s day slip right on by.

Leaving the coffee shop, I was approached by a man clad in a dark business suit. He was probably no older than 35, no younger than 30, and had a friendly smile. It was a cool day, breezy, but the sun was high overhead, and as he’d likely been wandering about the parking lot for hours, his skin was melting. He prefaced his slow approach with, “Nothing scary, I just have something you might be interested in.” Still shivering from the ridiculously frigid temperatures all coffee-shops espouse, the only thing I was interested in at the point was getting in my warm car and home as soon as possible for a nap. I didn’t have the heart to keep walking, though, and stood there thawing as he proceeded to solicit make-up to me. When he was finished with his well-rehearsed spiel, he invited me to take one of the bags and look inside for myself. It wasn’t nice make-up, and here, I smiled wanly, and replied with, “Thank you, but I’m not interested.” He was ready for it, anticipated it, even. I wasn’t the first. Though his mouth smiled, his eyes reflected discouragement and weariness. He was tired. Much tired than I. “Okay. Have a nice day,” he said.

As I sat in my car, watching him attempt a sell once more, this time his odds increased as two women walked to their vehicles together, he was turned down without even a break in stride. My heart buckled. I thought about getting back out of the car, rushing over and letting him know I’d changed my mind. I didn’t.

I should have bought it.

There’s this prayer that I say over and over again. My mantra. It reminds me to constantly be aware of what’s most important: “Lord, let me be ready and willing.” My ability to follow through on this ebbs and flows, but all in all, I succeed more than I fail. This is because I’m certain that at given moment God might give me an opportunity to effect Good on someone. The choice to accept, however, is up to me. He schedules the appointment and leaves the rest up to me. God doesn’t manipulate or perpetuate, He only fills the plate. I am not doing Him a favor by acting on a good deed. I am doing me a favor. Which do you prefer? Being the givee or the giver?

I don’t need make-up; I have queue of lipsticks, an army of eye-shadows, and regime of applicators. The point of buying it was not to add to my already prodigious collection; it was to give a man hope. I’ll bet when he just a boy it wasn’t visions of proffering make-up to complete strangers in parking lots that filled his slumber’s dreams. Not to say there is any shame in what he is doing, I’m only left to presume it was not among his list of life’s ambitions.

I missed my appointment yesterday. I was distracted. I was tired. I was . . . I allowed my enervated state and the kingdom of Cara, to impede a chance at being a part of the Kingdom of God. I looked golden opportunity straight in the face and said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” While it is my fervent hope that I might inspire people with the book I work steadfastly on each day, this accomplishment, I know, is quite small in comparison to what I am capable of doing with my years in this interim. A life holds endless possibility. We hit our maximum potential with words like “limit” and “realistic”. I can do great things with my life as a writer, doctor, teacher, mother, artist, musician, and so on and so forth, but if I am blind to the Good right in front of me, the simple and the random moments that approach me with a plea for kindness, I’ve missed the whole point. Meaningless. My intentions mean nothing if my actions neglect to bolster them.

Some of you know I have a strong predilection for words. To me, they are the equivalent of a never-ending box of truffles. It must always be me that defines the word, however, never the other way around. I must be define love. I must be prepared to do more than say the right things, hope a prayer onto someone. I must be prepared to answer that prayer in whatever way I can.

That man’s face stayed with me all day yesterday, affixed itself to my heart like a barnacle. I fell asleep thinking of him. Regret’s aftertaste is one of the worst I have ever experienced, like sewer water and penny. I wish I could say this was the first time I had ever let an opportunity pass me by. Even more, I wish I could say it would be the last. It won’t be. I am human and flawed, and unfortunately our species learns lessons the hard way, by making the same mistakes over and over. I will learn, though. I refuse to stop growing, to let my mistakes keep me stagnant and afraid of failure. Those belong to the dark. You and I, we were born to be Light.

I should have bought it. Next time, you can be sure I will.

Happy Friday/Saturday, my friends. I wish you a wonderful weekend.




30 thoughts on “I should have bought it.

  1. Well said. There have been many times I’ve looked back and said “I should’ve’. Now, I try not to have too many of those. now, if I say no, it’s because I’m truly, truly not interested or I have truly, truly have no money (usually the latter). Don’t beat yourself up too much. You could have said yes, and an insane reaction to the makeup and ended up in the hospital which could have resulted in a post “I shouldn’t have bought it”. 🙂 Life is a 50/50 chance. Just make sure your decisions lie on the 51% of your ‘good’ choices’.

    • Thank you, Jenny. I appreciate your thoughts. 🙂 While you are so right in that the outcome in my purchasing, then using — I never would have actually used it, though — the make-up could have been disastrous, I think I would still prefer to live with a botched attempt at kindness, then reside in the what ifs. I’ve seen what skepticism can do to a human soul and I want no part of it. My desire to be someone that can look beyond the obvious and see the potential in every moment, every interaction, taking the ordinary and turning it into extraordinary.
      Good choices indeed!

  2. You expressed this so perfectly! I am so glad you write your thought for others to read, because I’m so tired of being one of the only few that reads your other work and gets to experience so much from it :-). When your book is finished, so many more people will be able to experience your writing on a much more grander scale! Not only can you write and paint a picture with your words, but you are an amazing story teller as well! I love you, and am so thankful for you! Whenever your posts come through my e-mail at work, I am so happy to stop what I am doing to enjoy a little This Little Light break :-). You should definitely re-blog this on your other blogs 🙂

  3. At the risk of sounding callous, I don’t think you should have bought it, Cara. Make-up you don’t need, money you could use elsewhere, either for something you truly need, or toward a good cause.

    You were given an opportunity: a choice to be kind, or to be rude. The salesman caught you at a bad time, you were tired, uncomfortable, yet you chose to be kind, patient, and you made a fair evaluation of the goods for sale before declining.

    We are called on to be good stewards. That means making positive use of our time, our talents and our money. You didn’t want the make-up, you didn’t need the make-up, but you did give of your time and courtesy.

    Yes, you could argue that you could done without the money, and spending the money was a small price to pay to boost the fellow’s spirit. In those circumstances, hat would not have been a waste.

    You may not be pleased with the outcome, all you can do is carry the experience with you to the next opportunity.

    • I don’t think you’re coming from a place of callousness, Sherry, but a place of common-sense and objectivity. While I consider myself a child of both — especially the former — I believe the situation and subsequent decision was more about me than it was about the salesman. As beings who demand tangibility and proof it is difficult at time to only see a situation for what it is “exactly”, and not descry the much more elusive “something else” beyond it.

      I thank you for sharing your thoughts me with me 🙂

  4. I am so sorry that you are having trouble with the editing. I would say it will get better, but I feel it is just your nature. You, like many, have something I call buyers remorse. Some people have it with items, you have it with words. You are never really sure, but you know you like it. Then you look again a week later and think.. am I sure I like it? This is what you must think “There was a reason why I used that imagery there, even if I did not know it in the moment. There is something greater at work here that moved me” Good Luck!

    The other part of your blog made me want to cry. I have been there so many times in life and to see another person deflate is just breaking. Especially, when you know they are trying so hard. Like you said, this is probably not his dream job. But he does it, daily, knowing defeat is always around the corner. He probably gets more no’s in a day than yes’ but he wakes up every day to go to work because he has that ethic in him. Great story and something we can all learn from.

    • Jenna, you are right. This ambivalence is essentially who I am, and I have — as much as I can — come to peace with it. Much of that flaw makes me who I am, and I trust that the while the Lord works to refine me, not being One who is tepid, He will use me, flaws, weaknesses and all. 🙂

      Thank you for your thoughts, both on writing and my encounter with the salesman.
      So excited for you and your upcoming trip!

  5. I think you may have done the guy a favor. At the end of the day the paths we are on in the Universe do have a track and God’s influence in your path may have been the moment when you said no. If this guy has any ability to sell he will make sales and he may realize he can make them selling something of greater profitability and/or merit. You did not deny the man a hand in a desperate time of need, you simply chose not to buy something you did not need. As adept as you may be at empathy, this guy could have been the owner of the business, he could have started yesterday. In either case he was working and you were not an ideal client.
    Let’s say you had bought some makeup and your sale pushed him over the top on the hardest day he had ever worked and he made his quota +10. The next day he would be expected to do the quota +20 but failed and therefore he felt like a failure took his pittance and bought a gram of crack, smoked it, broke into a gas station and was shot mercilessly by a rookie cop on his first day of work. Had you never helped him develop false expectations of himself he might have quit the shitty job and gone to work as a police officer.
    Trust your immediate instincts and never regret anything. Regret is our single most useless emotion. Now, if he was selling girl scout cookies this would have been a different lecture.

    • Not sure if this post warranted a lecture, though as someone I admire and respect, I do always appreciate hearing your thoughts, Michael. 🙂 I expected the gamut with this, and the gamut is what I got.

      • not really as much a lecture as an opinion. I think on another day you may have gotten a new lip-liner on this day you didn’t. You are a good person of that I am certain and I just wanted to have a little fun with you

    • Oh, Lori, thank you . . . The risk I took in sharing heart publicly left me feeling vulnerable, and not at all surprising — indecisive. I knew that my thoughts and feelings were my own, and likely many wouldn’t understand or agree, but I am reassured by those who do. I struggled the entire way through that post. I couldn’t figure out why the words choked rather than poured, resisting me until the very end. Unfortunately, there are things I cannot see at work; things that hope to keep my silent and scared. It fills me with joy to know that maybe . . . maybe yesterday’s writing was just for you.

      You have a great weekend, as well!

  6. I love to do work at a coffee shop myself! 🙂 I’d rather paint out doors in a busy park than in seclusion!

    You have a very tender heart shown by your thinking about other people’s feelings.

    • It really does change everything, doesn’t it? Just being in a different environment? I try and get out once a week, even to write there, but I hardly ever follow-through. My sweats are incredibly tempting 🙂

      Thank you . . . Tender is definitely me. Some days I wish I was a little less tender, but I know that I was created this way for purpose, and fighting it will only leave me tired and ineffectual.

      Have a wonderful weekend!

  7. I keep saying I’m going to pack up my lap top and go to a coffee shop and work on my novel. Which is also in the editing stage until I get to the point where I stopped working on it some time ago. I also need to re-title it wit something catchy. Lost opportunities always come around again we just have to look out for them.

  8. Oh, Cara, I find yet another Kindred Spirit connection. Three, actually.

    I, too, draw energy from people, but am a bit like you. When writing, I love to have chatter around me and choose when to engage. That’s why I do my writing at Starbucks. (and, I have shown up in sweats, btw). I love, love, love to engage strangers in conversation–just to get to know them. I used to marvel at my dad. We said he never met a stranger. They weren’t strangers for long. Dad loved to hear their stories. I do the same now. But, did I when he was still with us? The urge wasn’t nearly as strong. I wonder…

    I, too, would have sat in my car, wondered if I should reconsider, and regretted not doing it later. When it’s happened to me, I know I can’t undo what happened (or, didn’t happen), so I take it as a thunk on the noggin from God. Regret for the past is an exercise in futility. You will, I’m certain, find two opportunities on the same day to spread sunshine. You are blessed to care, because without that urge, where would you find the same level of joy felt when you do something good “just because.”

    I, too, freeze with what I call Intention met Perfection, and together created Procrastination. In my case (this week that seems to have ended on Monday), it is forward progress with rewrite of my Middle-Grade. I am giving a Beta Read sample to my granddaughter on her 11th birthday at the end of this month. The self-expectation for perfection is daunting. There is no editor or literary agent who carries the same level of importance to me as Little Red.

    For whatever it’s worth, one strategy I have learned to employ is the highlight function. When I get hung up looking for “the right word”, or “the sentence masquerading as a career opportunity,” I highlight the text in my favorite color-du-jour and move on. Somehow, those words or passages resolve themselves in my sub-conscious when I move past them. Hope that helps!

    Bella. That’s right. I was over here looking for Bella.

    Wonderful post, my kind-hearted friend.

  9. You have expressed a beautiful sentiment with this post. I hope to incorporate that way of thinking into my life more often, and seize each opportunity.

    I hope you’re not feeling to sore anymore! Let yourself heal up before you try any more workouts. 🙂

    • Thank you, Melissa. Very kind of you to say.

      Oh, boy . . . Well, we were “forced” to add a half-cheat meal to our weekend for our friends B-day last night. So, to compensate for that, we decided to go for a 2 mile run. I’m not a runner and my IT bands were screaming at me about half a mile in. Both my husband and I are determined to get me to a point where I’m not hobbling the next day. Those foam rollers work miracles, I hear! If you have any suggestions, would love to hear them.

      If you made the soup, I hope it turned out well!

  10. i don’t yet agree that you should’ve bought it. for one, you seemed sure the quality was not great. also, how expensive might that be? what about the next salesperson who approaches you? when will you stop? will you feel guilty that you bought from that guy but not the next?

    your intentions were nothing but great – but it might amount to throwing money away and opening a channel for more in the future. now, let’s pretend you’re amazingly wealthy, then it’s a non-issue and you’d be doing a super nice thing.

    alternative: instead of buying out of something related to guilt mixed with nice and wanting to help someone – next time say, “no, i’m not interested in buying make up, but i’ll be glad to buy you a cup of coffee.”

    now you’re doing a nice thing, but it’s not going to cost you more than a few bucks. that’s better than being conned into $25 of bad cosmetics.

    • Rich,

      You remind me very much of my friend Michael (Blissful Adventurer) You’re both intelligent, slightly cynical, hilariously witty men. You would really like him — or . . . because you two are so similar, jealousy will erupt and you’ll hate each other.
      50/50 chance. I’m kidding. Up a ways you’ll find his comment, which approaches the controversy similarly.

      I’m not a particularly stubborn woman, but I’m sticking to my guns of this one. Why? Because I still think the issue had everything to do with my being obedient in the moment and nothing to do with the possibility of being swindled, conned, deceived, etc… by a less-than honest salesman. No, I won’t feel guilty for saying no the next time. Unless, that is, I feel the same sort of prompting. But, because you mentioned it: the very next day two kids came to the door selling magazines. I had no qualms about telling them “I’m not interested.” By most standards it was an identical situation and not at all the same. My action, or lack thereof, and subsequent reaction that day all stems from the knowing that I was supposed to say yes to him. I struggle to put it into more absolute, unequivocal words that that. I can only say that my faith comes with a stirring; my soul is like a homing beacon, and when it starts to thrum and light up and alert me something is happening, I must, above all else, pay attention. If not, I end up with regret — which I don’t think is a useless emotion; not if you use it wisely. Yes, I could have bought him a cup of coffee, and have done so in the past when homeless men have asked for money, but I wasn’t supposed to do that. I should have bought it.

      Thanks for chiming in. I like having your Voice around here.


  11. There seems to be a wide range of responses on this one . . . all good and unique, but I still think there is something missing. And maybe that’s just it . . .something is missing from society — and more sadly, a gift given by God that rarely is even talked about in the Church. The Spirit (aka the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, Spirit of Truth, etc.) I know, sounds kind of “spiritual” but it’s all over the bible (I won’t even pretend to be a Bible scholar and list off a bunch of verses, but I promise you’ll find it if you look). Jesus was the perfect example of how to live a full complete life (not many, even non-Christians, would argue against that), and when he was killed and left this Earth, he did not leave us empty handed. Yup . . . The Spirit! Unfortunately, we stumble through life most of the time, and don’t even know what the Spirit sounds like. That’s what this post is all about (just assuming here). Nothing to do with crappy makeup, sweaty salesmen, or even “doing the right thing.” It’s all about learning what the Spirit sounds like. The obedience to that little nudge we feel sometimes, to step out of our own “kingdom,” and into the richness of His Kingdom. His Kingdom = God’s will being done, the triumph of good over evil, and His yearning for all of us to be involved in it! We don’t have to worry about the salesman’s motives, the quality of the product, the whys, hows, and whos. That’s the beauty of it; all because we have a Counselor, a guidance counselor of sorts in spiritual matters, the ability to recognizing an opportunity for good in a world so often discouraged by evil.

    And only to get another round of philosophical discussion going, lets throw this one out, because I know we are all thinking it :-). If there is a Holy Spirit, there are probably most likely forces from the other side, looking to influence us as well. What about that?! How the heck do we know the prompting is right? Honestly, I think sometimes we are not real sure. Even better reason to learn the voice of the Spirit. But, by reading scripture, praying (aka having a conversation) with God, we can learn to discern the right “voice.” Will your response to the prompting have a potential to bring light to darkness? If there is a chance, I say go for it 🙂 and let God take care of the rest! As a side note about “the other side.” If you have not read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, I highly recommend it! It’s a fictional series of letters from a “senior devil,” to his protege, instructing him on how to ensure his “client,” ends up in their “father’s house.” Sorry for the rant, but I think that’s just what this post was created for 🙂

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