Link to recordings for my song: PEACEFUL AND INSPIRED
“My Journey’s Insight” is a sweet title for this blog that I began over 12 years ago. From the very beginning, it has been a place for me to share my heartfelt writing and life lessons.
My post title of “Peaceful and inspired” definitely describes my current life. I allow myself to explore any creative pursuit that pops into my mind. Whether it is art, music, or writing – I look for inspiration that stokes my passion.
I guess it’s no coincidence that I recently released an album with the title “Peaceful Arrangement Medley,” which begins with a lush arrangement for my song “Peaceful and Inspired.”
My recent painting named “Lily Pad and Lotus” is a great metaphor for me, because water is such a beautiful element to paint. I regularly swim and feel so peaceful afterwards. When my dear friend Joni sent me photos from her trip to Georgia, one of them really caught my eye. I told her I was excited to make a painting from it.
Writing has been on my back burner for a while. But when I hear words speaking to me, I know it is time to write. It’s such a mysterious process that I love, and my post today truly came as a surprise. I find that when I look for meaning through ordinary life, inspiration awaits.
Here is my story.
A BUNK BED, DESK, AND DRESSER
I was disappointed when I heard my neighbor Gabriel was moving. I live in a coop of 24 units and both Gabriel and I are board members. Gabriel was such an important part of our board and our building. He would certainly be missed.
When he sent out an email about his upcoming move, he told everyone to stop by and take anything they wanted. He explained that he didn’t need any of his furniture, because he was moving to a furnished place.
Gabriel was anxious because he had one week to clear everything out of his unit. On Saturday, his movers would empty the place and take away anything left behind.
I met up with him and was excited for all the nice things he had available. Unfortunately, my place was small and I really couldn’t see myself taking anything. Mostly, I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of bringing it down from his upstairs unit into mine. Then I would also have to get rid of whatever I replaced. His queen bedroom set was so tempting though, and only four years old.
My youngest son took a look around and zeroed in on something he wanted. There were a pair of excellent speakers. My son said he would definitely pick them up later in the week.
Impulsively, I told Gabriel that I could help clear out his place and even make money for him by placing some ads. I relished the challenge and thought it might even be fun for me. Whenever I sold items on Ebay, I felt very accomplished.
Gabriel was thrilled by my offer and said, “Judy, we can split it. Whatever you get, I’ll give you half!” I smiled and told him that wasn’t necessary – we would see where it went.
I took pictures of everything and began an odyssey of salesmanship on OfferUp, NextDoor and Craigslist. Right away, it became a huge time sucker.
There were six listings in three places. I received dozens of messages asking if the items were still available. Even though I would reply to every message, there was seldom a follow-up after that. It became a challenge to remember who was interested in what, so I had to take notes.
One guy did show up. He said he would be in touch to pick up 5 pieces of furniture the next day. But he never got in touch. Someone else told me he had arranged for movers to come in the afternoon. Well, that didn’t happen either.I received a message about the bunk bed from someone hoping for a lower price. I replied that it would depend upon whether someone who planned to pick it up followed through.
A man planned to get the treadmill after he came back from a weekend trip. But when I checked with him on Monday, he said he had gotten into a car accident and wouldn’t be able to use a treadmill for a long time, let alone lift it into his car.
I tried not to bother Gabriel with anything, unless it involved going into his apartment. He gave me a key in case I needed it.
As the days edged toward moving day, I went back to the message about lowering the price for the bunk bed. I had already done that with everything else.
The woman’s name was Blanca and I told her if she just wanted the bunk beds, it would be $150.
Blanca replied quickly. Earlier, she shared that she had seven children and really needed it. Her husband stopped by with money later that day, but there was a language barrier. The man put his wife on the phone and Gabriel told her that he wouldn’t accept money until the furniture was picked up. The wife was adamant that he hold onto it for them and promised they would pick it up the following day.
It turned out that this was the only sale for all of the work I invested in advertising four rooms of furniture that week. It was humbling. I decided that selling furniture was definitely not up my alley.
I spoke with Gabriel and asked him how the pick up went.
He said, “I hope it’s okay that I only took $100 for the bed and that was only because the husband insisted. I happily gave them pillows, bedding, the desk, and dresser, too. They were thrilled. When they told me that two of their seven children were sleeping on the floor – well, it sure felt good to give it all to them.”
I grinned and was so happy to hear this. Of course, I reassured him that his generosity was wonderful. Some things are worth so much more than money and this was one of them.
Every time I think about how much that family is appreciating their furniture, I find myself smiling. All of the energy I expended was worth it – to foster this meaningful opportunity for them.
Many times, the effort that is put into something goes into another unplanned direction that I believe can be just as worthy.
The night before Gabriel moved, my son and I came to get the speakers. We both wished him well.
Gabriel said, “I’m really glad these speakers are going to a good home. They were my brother’s. I believe he paid about $1,200 for them.”
That opened up a window to an obvious question. If I weren’t a bereaved parent, I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to ask.
“Gabriel, what happened to your brother?”
He answered softly, “He died ten years ago.”
We talked a little more. I learned that his mother had been involved in the grief organization Compassionate Friends, just as I had.
I opened the door for my son to carry out the speakers. It was dark, but my eyes were moist with tears. When Gabriel shared that they were going to a good home, I had no idea. His parting words gave me chills.
His brother’s name was Gregory. And that was my son’s name.
Prologue: The house shook – my heart was pounding. An earthquake? No, it was just the damn bass notes from those new speakers!