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Earlier this month, I had a day from hell traveling to Atlanta. I won’t bore you with the details but suffice it to say, I (finally) found myself in my Uber to my hotel at 1:45 am, without my luggage. I sat in the back seat upset that I didn’t have my creature comforts like my slippers, my toiletries, and my running gear for the morning. This is unlike me because I try to remember to keep things in perspective, like the people who are living on the street who can’t Uber to a hotel, with slippers in their suitcase that got lost, but will be returned to them shortly.
I sat back and closed my eyes trying to calm myself, forgodsakes. I took a peak at Facebook maybe seeking some comfort from friends and oddly, an article on happiness appeared in my newsfeed. I normally wouldn’t click on it but given the circumstances, I did. The first piece of advice was about gratitude and to think about the three things you are grateful for. Obviously, this isn’t new to me but it seemed like a good time to run through my three things. As crappy as the day was, I easily thought of three:
- Beautiful run in the snow with my husband and dog this morning.
- Good wine on my flight.
- A hotel room … <my phone rings>.
Just as I finished my third thing, the phone rang. It was 2 am and we were pulling up to the hotel. It was Alaska Airlines and they had my bag.
We turned around and cruised out to get it. In that moment, everything changed in a split second and I was happy again.
Coincidence? I don’t know much about that stuff. I know some people say there are no coincidences. Was my moment of mindfulness enough to bring things back to center? That might be too cosmic but I’m not sure how else to explain it.
The next day, I found myself hurrying to an appointment a few blocks from the hotel. I came upon a guy rummaging through the trash and as I passed him, I stopped, turned and handed him my lunch I had just picked up. He looked me directly in the eye, I’ll never forget, he was sort of questioning or sad, or just hopeless, and I pushed the bag and said “food,” and walked away.
I didn’t have a chance to get something to eat until dinner that night, and being the type that never skips a meal, I went a little hungry. Every time I felt that pang, however, it made me think about the guy on the street and his eyes when he looked at me and that I can be a little hungry for a few hours, no problem, if it helps take the edge off his.
We might have to sacrifice something small, something we take for granted, when we help people. Homeless people, unlike what some think, are not to be feared. Sure, a small percentage (as in any population) are bad seeds. I suppose some might think I put myself in danger doing that. But I’d argue, what were the odds? Pretty slim, and since I’m more likely to get hit by a car in the cross walk, (and that doesn’t stop me from crossing the street), it was a risk I didn’t mind taking.
I share this not to say “hey, how about me, doing a good deed?” but rather to illustrate that we can accept the risk and sacrifice to lend a hand, or we can use it as a convenient excuse to turn our backs on those who need us. I’d like to think the good will always outweigh the bad.
This all took place in early November, when I started writing this post. Much has changed in the world in the short time since.
It seemed like a good week to share the message.[ssba]