Just doing their thing

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The contradictions are what make human behaviour so maddening and yet so fascinating, all at the same time.  Joan D. Vinge

We’re a curious bunch, humans, aren’t we? At times I lament our savagery, our meanness and our power to do harm yet just as often I find myself warmly cheering on our compassion, our warmth and our gorgeous quirky little ways. Sometimes I just smile. Smile because I love seeing people doing their thing and loving it. I find myself smiling and having happy thoughts because of the small way I’m touched by other people’s existence.

This random theme was prompted on my walk home a couple of days ago. I noticed a gentleman a little way ahead of me. He had stopped near a seat on the street and then moved to one right next to it. I noticed he placed something on the second one, a bright red apple. As I got closer I also noticed that he’d placed an orange on back of the previous seat. He had in his hand a bag full of fruit. This behaviour was puzzling. Here was a man, leaving fruit on public seats in a public; was he making some sort of statement, was he simply leaving fruit for the homeless or was there some other purpose behind his seemingly unusual behaviour?   He brightened my day, his act of kindness or madness was, for me,  an artistic one. I found myself marvelling at the scene,  two closely placed concrete seats with vibrantly coloured organic fruit placed strategically atop. The pure atheistic value of the juxtaposition, on an overcast and dreary day was akin to standing in front of a masterpiece in a gallery. I found myself smiling all the way to the car and pondering the quirkiness of this “random” act.

It got me thinking about how incredible the human animal is in their capacity to bring joy to others through the small acts they perform by just being themselves. I’m not talking overt or gratuitous acts planned to bring joy. I’m taking about the simple, quiet,sometimes habitual acts that form part of the course of life. For instance, I follow a photography blog. This guy posts great photos of birds with quirky titles and tidbits of interesting information. It’s not vital to life, it’s not something that wakes me in the night with an urgency to dissect the meaning behind it but it does make my day brighter, it raises a smile and adds value to my week.

A school friend posts a “happy Monday kids” post to Facebook each week. She follows up on Wednesday with encouraging words to let us know it’s hump day and then she wishes us all well on a Friday for a happy weekend. She’s not winning Nobel peace prizes nor being interviewed by Oprah for her humanitarianism but she brightens my week and from the long list of comments on each post, she’s brightening the week of dozens of others too. She’s just one person, doing her thing and making a difference.

I visited another floor in my building a few weeks back and was mesmerised by the desk of a colleague, everything, and I mean everything was purple. The whole space was a purple haze. Every folder, binder, pen and trinket was a shade of purple. I don’t have a favourite colour, nor a favourite food or a favourite anything really, I pretty much dabble across the palette but I love when I see someone so passionately into something that it colours their world. It makes me smile at the quirky nature of us humans.

Each of us has potential to bring joy to the world and brighten it in some way. Some share their hilarious and breathtaking  adventures, some write beautiful poetry, some walk the streets smiling at those they pass, some share poignant thoughts and ideas for others to ponder.  There are so many and varied ways that we impact the people around us. Do you recognise how you brighten the world by just doing your thing?

 

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Haves, have nots and humanity in the city

Image by fastcodesign

Image by fastcodesign

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. Dalai Lama

I have a story to share. I hesitated at first because I didn’t know how it would be perceived. I didn’t want anyone to think it was about me. Because it’s not.  Well, it says a lot about me, I guess, but the gorgeous soaring love I felt for humankind  arose, not from my actions but as a result of another’s.

I shared my story with a friend and she said to me: “Blog your story. That is a beautiful story, you must share it. Kindness does not go unrewarded! It makes me all teary again, how the haves are sharing with the have nots cos they want to and it feels right.”

So, one day, not so long ago…. there was a homeless man on the street. He had a message scratched on a sign, I glanced and walked away. How do explain myself? I can’t except to say I have always felt confronted by homeless people. I’m not sure why or where that comes from. I’m not an unkind person or lacking compassion but I do have a serious issue with knowing how to respond to someone in such need. How much is enough, is a little adequate?  Excuses I know.

Anyway, I felt guilty that I didn’t stop. But the further away I got the more embarrassed I was to turn back. I told myself stories to abate the guilt – I only had large bills or credit cards. I don’t really like to give money. Etc etc. I was surprised to sense a little voice in the back of all of this justification saying if he was there the next day I’d stop and read his sign.

As it turns out he wasn’t there but the day after that he was.

I’d left work early for an appointment but I stopped and tried to read his sign, it made little sense to me.  However, I spoke with him and told him I’d seen him a couple of days ago. I asked him where he slept and if he got any benifits. Then, as if watching myself from out of my body, I heard myself asking him if he’d eaten that day. He said he had but not much. I suggested we go see if the posh cafe I’d just walked past was still open. He agreed and quickly gathered his meagre belongings.

When we entered the cafe the guy behind the counter eyed us strangely and I almost thought he’d ask us to leave. When I asked for sandwiches he said he had none. I could see sandwiches, rolls and wraps in the fridge behind him. He told me they were stale and no good for eating. He said he wouldn’t even give them to me as they were too dry.  I turned to the homeless man and explained the situation. I was a little unsure how to proceed. Then I saw a cabinet with delicate sweets, I didn’t want to buy him sweets with no nutritional value but I spotted salads on the bottom shelf so I asked him if he’d like a salad. Yep. He did.

The young man who served us was so lovely, he kept calling the homeless man sir and asked him if he’d like to eat in or takeaway, if he needed a fork etc. He said he would add a danish and a croissant for later. He asked us if the meal would be eaten shortly or carried a long distance. He was concerned, as it had egg in it and didn’t want any health issues arising from overheated, unrefrigerated food. I asked my companion if he’d like a drink and we got a cappuccino, with two sugars. Again our waiter was charming and continued to address the gentleman by the title of sir, ensuring he had what he wanted. He made the coffee beautifully. Taking care to add just enough extra milk to top it up, wiping the cup free from spillage. He packaged it all up in a carry bag with a napkin and utensils and wished the man an enjoyable meal.

Once his package was in hand  the man left and I turned to the waiter to pay for the meal.   The lovely young man, who had treated a homeless man with dignity and respect looked at me, waved his hand and said, “There is no charge. You are a good woman. It’s on us”. I was blown away. Honestly, how lovely is that? How often have you witnessed something so beautiful? I walked  up the street on clouds of gratitude and love, with a swelling heart, marvelling at the depths of human kindness and grinning like a Cheshire cat.

Aren’t humans marvellous?

This whole interaction occured as if within a bubble.  We three were connected for a short moment in time. A time within time. I felt buoyed by the love, respect and kindness I’d witnessed. I was reminded that we are all equal and that everyone, regardless of background, means or circumstance deserves to be treated with respect. I was reminded that we can share intimate meaningful moments by treating others as we would like to be treated. Gosh, imagine what we could do in the world if we were all a little more like the young waiter who served us.

(Here I am talking of intimate moments with two souls and I didn’t even asked either gentleman his name.)

What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.
These are but trifles, to be sure; but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.  Joseph Addison

Embracing beautiful connections and never underestimating small actions.

Blessings to you all,

Shannyn