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Red Ants Marching

One of my New Years Resolutions was to compliment people more. And I don't mean making up compliments just to sound nice, but to really mean them. Stephen Hawking said that "quiet people have the loudest minds", and I believe that to be very true. I, as well as many others I'm sure, think things all the time but might not actually say them. So this year I decided that instead of just thinking about the things I truly admire about someone, that I would actually vocalize them more too.

We all are just ants marching on through our lives, going about our day and not actually relating with one another. I always think of the Dave Matthews Band song "Ants Marching", when I think about how humans in our society function..."People in every direction. No words exchanged, no time to exchange". I am ashamed to say that I find myself caught up in this when I'm overworked and on a strict schedule, but when I am removed from this ironically phrased title "making a living", I am actually living a life that is worth making.

Tonight was one of the coolest examples of how one little compliment can make someone feel good and get people to open up about themselves. I was up late, and craving a shake, so I went to the golden arches (McDonalds). What I thought would be a quick trip ended up being a bit more than that. It wasn't very busy at that establishment, so I went in and a nice boy took my order. I noticed he had a tattoo of Ronald McDonald on his upper arm (seems crazy, but stay with me). It was riddled within a mosaic of other tattoos that together amounted to an upper sleeve, and it was actually tastefully done. One had to somewhat study his arm for a small length of time to identify it. As I was waiting and observing, I genuinely told him that I liked his tattoo, and said he was a die hard employee for it. He smiled real big and opened up about how this place saved his and ultimately his father's life. He first started working at McDonald's while going to school, and he earned a scholarship and money to help fund his dream of academia. Then his father became terminally ill with cancer, and he had to give up school for a while and move back home to take care of him. But he stayed working at McDonald's and they worked with his often sporadic schedule. He went at length about his father's illness and we related on the effects of this aggressive form of cancer. He can't wait until his father gets better (God willing), and he can go back to school. I wished him all of the best, and he smiled and thanked me for coming in. I think he was very proud to talk about his father and aspirations for the future, and I was left feeling very happy to have conversed with such a cool young man. People relating with people, finding comfort and commonality among the differences, is really what life is all about.

To re-live your 90's nastalgia, here's "Ants Marching" by DMB:

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