I just returned from New York City on a business trip, and I am writing to share with you an experience I had over three days talking to a woman from China who owns a delicatessen on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, near the hotel I stayed in.
For now, let's call her Mina. Mina is 51 years old, works 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and runs an immaculate, tight ship. She has 11 employees, an amazing array of health oriented items in her deli, and the best fresh pineapple and mango slices you could ever dream of inside the concrete jungle of a busy, loud metropolitan city.
On the second day of my visit and my third trip into the deli, Mina seemed to muster up the courage to talk with me. She asked me where I was from and then seemed to pause for a moment.
Then she folded the handle on the grocery bag a few extra times, giving me a little extra attention, and then she asked me, "Are you happy every day. I mean; you always this happy?"
At first I was a little startled as I want to be totally honest with you, in that I was kind of in a rush to get back to work and I was really looking forward to that bite of mango.
I caught myself, took a deep breath, and I knew I needed to pay attention. I slowed myself down, and had a nice conversation with Mina about her inquiry. Without being too invasive, I asked Mina if she was happy at all.
She went on to tell me that in life "there is only work," and although I understood her statement, I asked her if she believed what she was saying was true.
After further investigation, Mina shared that she loved music, jazz in fact, and yet she never takes the time to listen to it.
I asked her when was the last time she actually had heard live music, and she could not remember.
At this point, let me be clear, I am not trying to solve the world's problems, or even pretending to be Mina's Knight in Shining Armor offering up the handy dandy solution.
I simply opened a window that was slammed shut. Or maybe I sprayed a little Windex on Mina's lenses in that I simply asked her if she could even give herself permission to enjoy something two hours a week.
I was not encouraging Mina to gallivant across the continent, or join a band at Mardi Gras, I simply asked her if she was willing to take a small step.
Now during this conversation, this place is hustling and bustling by the way, and I had the feeling I was possibly one of the few people Mina confided in in quite a long time. It didn't seem natural to offer Mina my email address and, to be honest, I am not really sure she needed to know that much about me.
What she did need was an invitation to change, even just 5 percent and, most importantly, she needed someone to listen intently and engage with. I hope Mina will go and find a little pleasure and hear some music.
In fact, I hope even in the smallest of ways, we all can. Even if it is a little extra glob of blackberry jelly on your toast, I hope we can all enjoy just a tad more.
Despite the journeys of pain and challenge, I do believe that the sun's rays were meant to shine a bit of light and hope on the day. Despite the struggles of life, I do believe there is music to be heard, listened to, appreciated, and enjoyed.
Perhaps the music that Mina really needed to hear was the music of our dialogue. The sound of a sincere voice who cared. Now, that sure sounds just fine to me.
• Dr. Jason Kolber is a licensed doctor of chiropractic and a certified life coach. He can be contacted at (480) 704-2787 or www.livinginline.com.