on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

Lessons from the Parking Lot — Day 21

Motley Crew: Dan Moseley, Harper Hellems, Patrick Baran and Daniel Sebring are parking attendants at a lot in Charlottesville, Va. — a place where complex stories and dreams lie beneath the surface.

Do you remember the last time you parked in a gated parking lot, received your ticket with the time stamped on it as you entered, and then when you left, you paid an attendant?  Yes?

OK, quick, name one characteristic about that parking attendant?  For most of us, that’s a hard one.

On NPR today I heard a fascinating story about a movie documentary entitled “Parking Lot: Guys, Cars, and The Meaning of Life.” You can listen to this funny story by Sandy Hausman by clicking here.

The NPR story is consistent with the theme I wrote about yesterday, Simple Conversations.  The point was its the little conversations, connections, in everyday life that can make a difference in another’s life.  We’re always looking for the big thing to make a difference, but we miss the small things right in front of us.

The documentary “Parking Lot” is about real guys who were philosophers, intellectuals, musicians, artists, marginal-type characters, and undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA).  Eventually some became a “Fulbright scholar; another is the senior librarian at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. James McNew plays bass with the band Yo La Tengo.”  They were/are creative guys who made their jobs as parking lot attendants hilariously fun and interesting and reflective.  They connected with people, most of the time.  And they had fun and looked for meaning in the mundane.

But one comment caught my ear:

“You develop a strong sense of self,” Slade explains in the film. “You get to know who you are fundamentally in the absence of any other external trappings … that typically frame our identities and make us who we are. Y’know, ‘I do this, or I do that.’ Well, when you’re at the parking lot, you do nothing.”

So let me ask you to answer one or both of these questions in the Comments section below without telling the readers what you do in your work or what your role in your family is, answer the question(s):

  1. Who are you?” in three sentences or less.
  2. When was a time you were in a potentially meaningless situation, and found or created meaning in it?

Living Simply is about finding meaning as we live each and every day. Especially in the routine.


  1. Shannon Hartley

    1. I am someone who tries to acknowledge and affirm others, that they feel seen and heard, that they matter. I try not to get caught up in my thoughts, so that I do not miss the opportunity to ‘be’ with others as I walk through my day.
    2. It is hard to state my role in this one 🙂 …I have not slept for more than two hour stints throughout the night for the past four months. I have a new baby, whom I breastfeed, and she feeds constantly. In the middle of the night, many times finding myself irritable or on the verge of ‘insanity’, I remind myself of some things–that I am blessed to have have a child, when many families are unable; and that I have a healthy, hungry, wiggling child laying next to me, when many families suffer through illness with their children. I then say a prayer for those families and thank God for what I have.

  2. Malcolm

    Thanks for sharing Shannon. I can imagine you are pretty exhausted these days, and yet you seem to still be able to hold on to the gift of having a healthy child. Your gratitude is inspiring. Take care.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2022 malcolm marler

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑