Today is day 5 of “Be Thankful” month and I have been pondering a few things after yesterday’s “running out if gas” dilemma. It struck me as very odd that no one stopped by to ask if they could help. Since moving to NC over 10 years ago, I have always been impressed by the kindness of others in this region… offering to hold a door, lend a hand, borrow a tool.
In one very poignant “pay it forward” moment several months ago, a woman paid for my bill in the Starbucks drive-through line. It just so happened I was surly that day… late for a meeting, caught at every traffic light, and numerous other morning annoyances boiled inside, just about to blow. When I was told that she paid for me, I was so stunned, I nearly cried. Well, actually, I did cry. The beauty of the moment, so perfect in its’ timing, was overwhelming. Epic, perhaps. Since then, I always pay for the cars behind me at the Starbucks.
So, the fact that I was in obvious distress, trying to push my car off to the side of the road, struggling with the safety valves of the little gas can in front of the pump, the attempts to fill the tank with the little bugger, with not one passer-by to offer a hand struck me as so odd… so unlike the Triangle region to which I’ve become accustomed. As all of this was rolling around in my head like a handful of wayward marbles, I realized that it was doing no good to pass judgement or to read into this “non-action” impression that I had developed. Heck, bad timing could have been the culprit.
But what I did realize was that kindness starts with me. You’ve probably heard the quote “Be the change you wish to see in the world” (and I hesitate to give credit to Ghandi, as there is some research to refute this claim.) Would I have stopped, racing home from the beach with a million to-do items on my list? Would I have even understood what was happening if I saw a woman fiddling with a gas can in front of a tank? Probably not. And shame on me.
So today, I made up my mind to be kind. I did not complain about the traffic; I wished for safe travels for all. I did not avert my gaze from others as I went through my day; I smiled and said hello. I listened to the travails of my husband and colleagues with endless patience and complete understanding. I texted lovey messages to my daughter and offered a “good luck” to the elderly couple at the vet with a sad little kitty held in a precious carrier. Why? Because they deserved it – they deserved to have positive thoughts surround them: to have a compassionate friend, spouse, mom, stranger. Because we all deserve it. And what a reward to have my sweet dog run straight into my lap with giant kisses after getting some stitches removed! Like a huge dog-hug I had never experienced before! Ah, sweet, precious moments. All in all, a great day.
In the end… “Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” (Again, attributions questionable.)
But, for some people like me, it’s hard to be reminded of this one little, extremely important message. It’s not easy… I am the first to know that. An irritating paper cut, stepping in gum on the sidewalk, a hair dryer that quits in the middle of a hectic morning routine, a flat tire, running late – the list goes on, doesn’t it? Minor annoyances (in the big scheme of things,) that prevent us from being the patient, kind, and giving human beings we should be.
And so, I am grateful for that confounded gas can. I am so grateful to everyone who did not stop yesterday. Because I desperately needed this message in a big, big way. And I must tell you, I am anxiously waiting for the chance to help another in distress. And I will be looking. You can count on that!