I walk most mornings -- from my office here at Second and Main, up Boyer Avenue, around the park, and back into town. It's good exercise.
The other day, as I started my walk, Annie and her friend, Gretchen, were sitting at a sidewalk table in front of the coffee shop, just a few steps from my office door.
"Good morning, ladies," I said.
"You missed it," Gretchen said.
"A pretty girl just walked into the coffee shop," Annie said.
"Not pretty," Gretchen said. "Beautiful."
"Gorgeous," Annie said.
"Not just gorgeous," the man at the next table said. "Drop-dead gorgeous."
Annie and Gretchen nodded. "He's right," Gretchen said. "Most beautiful girl I've ever seen."
"And her outfit is sort of skimpy," Annie said.
"Really skimpy," Gretchen said.
Dilemma: There I stood talking to my wife and her friend. I could follow my instincts, head straight into the coffee shop, and pretend not to look at the drop-dead gorgeous girl in the skimpy outfit. Or I could take the high road and walk on up the street.
"Maybe I'll take the high road for a change," I thought. "Just to see what it feels like."
And that's when I said, "She couldn't be more beautiful than you two. I already have plenty of beauty in my life. I'm going to take my walk."
Eyebrows rose and jaws dropped. I took my Brownie points and walked on up the street, feeling smug, almost noble.
I've been reading a book by Thich Nhat Hanh called "The Miracle of Mindfulness." He says unimaginable beauty is everywhere, all the time. All I have to do is walk and pay attention. I've been working on it -- sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Practice is required.
"I don't need to go out of my way to see a beautiful girl," I thought. "Beauty is everywhere."
I noticed a crack in the sidewalk where tiny red ants were swarming. Their bodies shimmered in the sunlight -- a dazzling display of nature's beauty.
"Wonder what color her hair is?" I thought. "Brunette? Blonde? Maybe a redhead? I have a thing for redheads."
I turned my mind back to the walk and tried to concentrate. I noticed a man's name engraved in the sidewalk "H. Foster 1919." Almost a hundred years ago a fellow named Foster poured the sidewalk. I was walking the same path -- a dazzling glimpse into history. I noticed a slight breeze. A flower petal fell from a young dogwood tree.
"Wonder if she has dimples?" I thought. "I'm a sucker for dimples. But drop-dead gorgeous women don't have dimples, do they? Cute women have dimples. What do drop-dead gorgeous women have? High cheekbones. Yeah, she probably has high cheekbones."
I pulled my mind back to the walk. I heard children playing on the playground -- a cacophony of high-pitched voices, laughter, and shrill screams. I was like them once. It was a dazzling reminder of mortality. I noticed another slight breeze. A squirrel scurried along a tree branch above my head.
"I bet she has big eyes," I thought. "I'm a big sucker for big eyes ..."
I turned my mind back to my walk, reached the end of the sidewalk, reversed course, and headed back toward town. I stopped at the Whitman duck pond and noticed how quickly the baby ducks had grown from fragile ducklings into near adults -- a dazzling transformation.
Just a short block or so from the coffee shop, I could see Annie and Gretchen, still seated at their table.
"Wonder what Annie meant by skimpy?" I thought. "She said the girl was wearing a skimpy outfit. Wonder what ..."
"So you two are still here," I said.
"Yep. Solving the world's problems," Gretchen said.
"The world must have a lot of problems," I said, heading into the coffee shop.
"Where are you going?" Annie asked.
"To get a cup of coffee."
"I thought you had enough beauty in your life," Gretchen said.
"Lordy, Lordy, Lordy," said Annie.
I lost my points, but it was worth it. The girl was drop-dead gorgeous.
If you'd like to read more of Sam's musings, visit his blog at www.sammcleod.net/blog