I love the wisdom of those who have walked the road ahead of me. We may not all take the exact same path, but we learn the same way. Mostly by the mistakes we make.
"Don't forget to count the steps you take each day, too," he said.
"I can't imagine counting the steps I take," I told him, "though my wife asked for a pedometer for Christmas this year. She read somewhere that she needs to take 10,000 steps every day in order to stay healthy."
"Is she doing it?"
"Well, she averages around 4500."
"That's great!" he said.
"Not exactly. Sometimes she walks around in circles to add more steps to her total. I get dizzy watching her," I said laughing.
"My point isn't to actually count the steps anyway," he said with a smile. "It's more to be aware of where you are going and how long it takes. We waste so much time...going in circles."
He was an average-looking man around 75 years of age. You'd most likely overlook him in a crowd. That is unless you wanted some advice. He tends to offer it even when you're not asking for it. That's how I met him. He was giving advice and no one was listening.
"Stop and watch people sometimes, too. You learn so much about others by watching them. People often say one thing but do another. It's what they do that really matters," he said.
I visit this nursing home at least once a week. I never met him before, but he's been there for at least three years. Like so many things in my life, I guess I just wasn't supposed to meet him until now.
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Lend money to a friend and it becomes a great wall between the two of you until he pays it back. Oh, you don't mean for it to be that way. But there's something about owing a friend money that blocks the flow."
"What about love?" I asked him. "You seem to have some great advice about everything else, but you haven't mentioned love," I said.
He suddenly got quiet. It felt different in the room. The people around him appeared uneasy. I realized I asked the wrong question. It was uncomfortable for a few minutes, and then he picked up right where he left off.
"It's better to have one flower in your hand than a thousand seeds," he said looking directly at me.
"Why?" I asked.
"Seeds are promises. The flower is truth," he replied.
He kept looking at me with a dead stare. Finally, he blinked his eyes, lowered his head, and said, "That's what I think about love."
He stood up, wished everyone well, and left the room.
The woman seated nearby turned to me and said, "His wife left him years ago. He can talk about anything but love. He's not bitter. He's just empty."
Then, standing up, she said, "Flowers die. I'll take the promises any time!" She started laughing and continued all the way down the hall.
They say that "All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today."
I guess then, the promise in the seed, like love, only becomes reality when you plant it and nurture it. The old man still longed for the love that never blossomed.
May the seeds you plant be many and the love in your life a flower in full bloom.