These are hard times for many of us. And the worst part is – it’s been going on far too long, and we don’t know when it will be over.
It’s difficult to see the forest for the trees some days with so many of our usual comforts, rituals, and routines gone out the window.
And yet, our attitude and attention to the things that hold meaning allow us to swim rather than tread water. While we can’t always control circumstances that negatively influence our lives, like COVID-19, we can control our response to it.
We can chose to focus on our difficulties – and there are many for some of us – or we can focus on the unexpected gifts that are given to us when we least expect them.
I’d like to share a gift I received recently. It was completely unexpected and had a profound effect on me. Here is what happened:
I left my downtown office building after a long day seeing clients. I was tired and looking forward to getting home, eating my dinner, and having a quiet evening.
I took a few steps out the door and a woman approached me. She was very soft-spoken and tentatively said, “Maybe you’re somebody I could ask?”
“OK,” I said, and she began to tell me her story. She said she worked in a community office in the Downtown Eastside and that her wallet was stolen that day because someone forgot to lock the filing cabinet. I used to work in the Downtown Eastside, so it seemed plausible to me.
I asked her what she was looking for. “All I need is $3.00 to get the transit back home.” She kept talking as I removed my backpack and began to fish my purse out from it.
She went on to tell me that she had $27 in her wallet and all of her credit cards. She contacted the transit office with her card number but to no avail. She was distraught, wondering how in the world she would even get home.
As I listened, I thought to myself, “Of course I’m going to give her $3.00 – or $5.00 to make sure she has enough.”
She went on to reassure me that she wasn’t a drug addict, and she wasn’t trying to solicit money for any nefarious reasons. She didn’t really need to do that because it was evident, to me anyway, that it wasn’t the case.
By the time I took my wallet out, I’d been listening to her speak in her gentle, soft-spoken manner, and I felt compelled to help her even more.
There was no resistance in my mind whatsoever. I reached into my wallet and gave her a $20 bill, trying in some small way to make her day a little lighter.
She began to cry. She took my hands in hers (not great due to COVID, but I understand that she needed to do that) and thanked me profusely.
She said, “Now I’ll be able to buy some eggs and bread for dinner.”
We parted, going our separate ways, and I found myself moved to tears. I wondered to myself why this was happening.
You see, I don’t believe in coincidences.
She may have thought I was her angel that day, helping her out and not judging her or walking away like I didn’t have time for her. And yes, that is true.
But what she doesn’t know is that she was my angel.
She brought me a gift in that moment that was worth much more than the $20 I gave her.
She reminded me there were times when I was that woman. When I struggled to make ends meet and felt too ashamed to ask anyone for a handout. When I was alone and didn’t know how to invite anyone to help.
She reminded me that random acts of kindness can have a big effect on both parties involved.
All I did was stay open and receptive to another human being in need.
It brought into focus what brings value and meaning to my life – being of service, in whatever way that presents itself in my life.
She showed me it’s always about love.
And, we all need more of that – especially right now.
Stay open to the “coincidences“ that the universe is putting in your path…things you can stay open to and responsive to…
that allow you to tap into yourself in a deep and meaningful way…
that might help you feel just a little bit more positive about human kind.
Remember, Mahatma Gandhi said that “the future depends on what you do today.” Small acts of kindness add up.
They fill our bucket with good feelings and encourage positive self-esteem.
So, stay open and stay positive.
We will get through this, hopefully sooner than later.
Let’s do it with more care for ourselves and one another.