I was out and about shopping yesterday and that always makes it easy to see Random Acts of Kindness. Some of them were having doors held for me, being wished Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas, and seeing people let others go first. This is one of the reasons I really like Christmas shopping. Keep paying attention folks. Don’t miss humanity’s way of caring for itself.
“Anxiety, the illness of our time, comes primarily from our inability to live in the present moment.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Living in the present is a skill to be learned. Let me help you learn it.
As I’m pondering Random Acts of Kindness I’m beginning to think outside the box. Today I was wearing one of my favorite sweat shirts. It says, “Born and Raised in San Francisco”. A man came up to me in a coffee shop and asked me if I was born in the city. I had forgotten my sweat shirt and was surprised that he could tell. Then he chuckled and explained that he was being playful. I thought it was sweet that he took the time to interact and joke. So I’m calling it a RAK.
The volunteers that get to my meditation center at 7:30 am to open the door and ring the bell so that those who want, can sit with community. Volunteerism is an act of kindness that is everywhere.
So looking for RAKs is a mindfulness practice. And the reason why it’s important is because our mind has a negativity bias. It’s always scanning for threats. And it’ll even find them when there not there. It’ll see a stick in the forest as a snake. This is to protect us from danger ahead of time. But it ignores the non-threats, like everything else. So we have to consciously note the positive to balance out the negativity bias, otherwise all we see is what’s scary and bad. Anyhoo… There were 2 RAKs today that I actually did rather than noticed. Is that cheating you may ask. I say no. The point is to notice kindness anywhere, from others or yourself. So here they are. At Trader Joe’s today I helped a man in a wheel chair reach something off of a shelf. And I let a lady with a baby in a stroller and a toddler go ahead of me in line because they had walked there and she was afraid it would start raining. So there we have it. To paraphrase a beer commercial, “Stay aware my friends.”
I carry 2 reusable stuff bags on my purse for when I need a bag at the grocery store. Today on the street a guy came running up behind me with them both telling me that they had fallen off a half a block away.
This was posted on my friend’s facebook wall. I knew I would notice no act more powerful than this, so I asked if I could share.
“Yesterday afternoon, by virtue of listening to a series of insistent gut feelings, I walked a couple miles out of my way to run an errand that could have easily been accomplished way closer to home. It brought me to an intersection right as a head-on collision between a car and a motorcycle took place. I heard a crash and then watched as a young man was thrown from his bike and into the street a few feet from where I stood. Somehow, I ended up kneeling in the middle of the street, holding his hand, reassuring him and holding the space until the ambulance came. His leg was badly broken. He was in terrible pain and so scared.
But he was surrounded by people– calling 911, holding him, stopping oncoming traffic. There was a tremendous circle of care, with him lying in the center. And from where I sat, at least, in that moment his comfort and safety were the only thing that mattered amidst the chaos. He would be okay, but for now, we had to sit in the fire.
Our human bodies are so vulnerable. Our lives are balanced so tenuously on a wire. So much has to go right, every single day of our lives, to keep us here. There is so much rightness that it just becomes the water we swim in. But that rightness? That generally okay, “my electricity is on and I didn’t get hit by a bus and my best friend hugged me and asked how I was” everyday functionality? That is held together by people- held together by all of us. We create the conditions, and we must create them through a general sense of love. Love for our aliveness, our people, our land, our lungs breathing in and then out without so much as a question. If we are the mass, that love is the gravity. And like gravity, we don’t always notice it when we’re walking down the street or having a nice meal. We notice it when we fall down.
In these moments, we remember why we are really here. We are SO lucky to get to care for each other. It is almost absolutely everything. If we are all just walking each other home, like Ram Dass says, how can you help clear the path? By offering and receiving care, all of us get to touch that love. To stop and see gravity. We all take turns. We are all part of this great circle of care.”
Parking in San Francisco is complicated. If you find a spot you need to be very suspicious and read every sign because it’s probably not a valid spot anyway. So today I parked in one of those confusing spaces. As I was going up and down the street trying to read every sign, I asked a passer by if he could help me figure it out. After about 3 minutes we realized it was actually not a legal spot. He walked on up the hill as I got into the car to find another spot. A minute later he came running down the hill to tell me there was a true parking spot at the top. How sweet!