One week into the New Year, and many of us have hit our rhythm. We’re back from vacation, back at work. We’re bold enough to open the first round of bills and sick enough to hide or eat or re-gift the last of the holiday cookies (or throw them in the yard in a fit of pique). We’ve put away the decorations and put on our gym shoes, arrayed in a sense of renewed “what’s next?”…
At the gym we high-five each other. We sweat a little harder, check our new heart rate monitor, jog an extra mile. In the hallways and locker room we joke about our resolutions and bucket lists. Want to lose a few pounds. Want to bag the big project. Want to earn more money. Want. Want. Want.
There’s an invisible man at the gym. He’s the guy with the bucket. The guy with the rags. The guy with the spring in his step and the smile on his face as he sanitizes the sweat from the treadmills in between users. He sees us. He sees us recognize each other and wave soundlessly as our headphones blare playlists. He hears us. He hears our complaints about our jobs and our weight and our big project and our paycheck. He notices everything about us, but we don’t notice much about him. We’re watching ourselves in the mirror, worrying about how long it will take to forget our resolutions and wreck the things we want.
He wants us to notice him. He wants me to notice him. Because I have in the past. We collide at the water fountain. Where he’s sought me out.
“Hi! Happy New Year!” He grins, delighted to be part of the celebration.
“Hi!” I unscrew and earbud from my left ear. “How are you?”
“Great!” He bounces up and down on the balls of his feet.
I know what’s coming next, and steel myself.
“How’s the book?”
He always asks me about the book. Because I mentioned it once and he remembers it every time. Because even though we think we’re tough and anonymous in our busy fitness getups and he’s invisible and focused on his bucket, we’re all of us more transparent and vulnerable than we’d like to admit.
“I hate to admit it, but it’s still not done.” I say, popping out the other earbud.
“Oh.” His face falls.
“But it’s my New Year Resolution!” My enthusiasm sounds hollow.
He breathes in to ask more; more questions I don’t want to answer, because I don’t want to get too close to telling the truth; that I’m scared I’m going to wreck my resolution: Be brave, and finish what I started.
Instead I divert, “What is YOUR New Year Resolution?”
Joy washes across his face and I’m stunned in the realization that I may be the only person in the place who has paused to ask what’s on his bucket list for 2015.
“Oh! Oh!” He looks upward, imagining, “I want to… you know,” he smiles, “make more memories. Make more memories.”
I punch pause on the persistent oonce oonce of my playlist. “Make more memories?”
“Yes! Talk with people, ride my bike, go places. Like last year, I made some really good memories last year. More memories. Make more memories.”
It hit me, hard. Make more memories. Best damn bucket list I’ve ever heard. I told him so and we high-fived. And off he went, not invisible, but invincible. Smiling gloriously, a spring in his step, noticed. Off he went, I’m sure, to make more memories.
Make more memories.