Over this Shavuos, I met some pretty special people. I'm a bit of a people watcher, so I get the opportunity to see some amazing people, but not always do I get to see them in action. This Shavuos, without speaking to the first person I'll write about, I got to see something that really affected the rest of my davening in a positive way.
It was 6:00 am or so on Shavuos morning. 85% of the people davening in the shul were falling asleep on their faces. I wasn't one of them, but I was definitely on the exhausted end of the spectrum with my knees complaining about how much I had used them. Come kedushah of shacharis. The chazzan, insanely, decided to sing a slow and mournful tune that had us holding each other back from rushing the bimah to drag him off and throwing up someone else to rush through the rest of it. This shul has some pretty remarkable people- people who would never complain about the length of davening. They weren't particularly pleased either with these turn of events.
So, the chazzan is singing away, the rest of us are mournfully, in more ways than one, singing along. I glanced behind me and see a middle-aged man dancing on the spot, enjoying every single moment of the singing. I looked forward, not believing what I had seen and then glanced back again. My mouth dropped and my eyes went fish-like as, in disbelief, my tired eyes proved they were still working. The guy was enjoying the singing. Enjoying the singing. Enjoying. The. Singing.
I thought it was pretty special that a guy, exhausted to pieces, managed to wake himself up enough that he could dance on the balls of his feet because of kedusha. Wow.
The second person, a girl who I shared a meal with, was special in a very different way. Firstly, she invented a word that is actually being used around the college she attends. That's pretty impressive in its own right. It's an obvious spin-off of the word bourgeois, but it's quite impressive that she actually managed to come up with a word and actually get it into people's daily use. The word: Bougie. It means fancy. I was introduced to the word by way of being called the word. I am, apparently, bougie. "You're bougie. Ya know, the kind of person who lives in the Upper West Side of New York." I have no idea what kind of people live in the Upper West Side of New York, but it seems she meant it as a compliment. In which case, I'll take it.
But that isn't why I found her to be special. She seemed to me to be the kind of person who is always happy, a rare commodity in a person these days. Everything she said, and everything that was said to her, was said and received with a smile. Even when we had a disagreement, she was smiling throughout. She has another set of phrases that end with "at life." Good at life, great at life, awesome at life, amazing at life, etc. etc. The family we were eating at, her and I agreed, are amazing at life.
There are some people who you want to stick in a bottle and walk around with. It isn't specific to them, but the words, smiles and encouragement that seems to be a permanent fixture of theirs is a wonderful thing to have with you. I don't necessarily want her in my life, but I want the frame of mind she has to be in my life. I want to bottle that love of life she has and walk around with it so I can look at it and model myself after it.
Shavuos was beautiful, and I had a wonderful experience, but aside from my learning, it's the special people that I met that will remain with me for the next little while.
Judaism has the idea that we can learn something from every person we come across. Those lessons, often, require some thought to reveal. When that's the case, we can miss them. It's a blessing that God granted me to come across these two people who shone with the lesson for me to learn from them.