Lately, some generous and good people are blowing my mind. Maybe it’s because I feel more vulnerable, with the fires and earthquakes and terrible events in the news.
I feel more grateful for the good people around me. At the grocery store a friend grabbed my groceries and dropped money on the cashier insisting, “Let me pay for those.” I mumbled something. She insisted, “I love you.” I wondered if I looked like a bag lady. Why was this generosity coming my way?
Then, on the weekend I was at a party and a woman I was chatting with (a complete stranger) whispered, “Would you like my bracelet?” My mouth fell open. I wondered if she was selling something. Surprised, I asked: “Don’t you want it?” She laughed, “It’s not my color.” Now I have this sparkling blue bracelet around my wrist.
Later that week, while struggling with my new cell phone, gritting my teeth, fumbling with it endlessly, I came home exhausted. And there were strawberries on my porch! What’s with all this good stuff?
After devouring the delicious berries, I went out to prune some bushes in my front yard. After a while, a speeding car squealed around the corner. As I peered back, I saw it was screeching past the back of my knees. I kneeled into the bushes and screamed, “Good God!” My legs buckled into the greens. He missed me by a few inches. It was terrifying.
How could life be so loving and so harrowing at the same time? I rushed to my yoga class, tense as a board. I stumbled in there, breathless from the speeding car, the constant hot weather, sweating and craving rest. I reached into my bra and handed the woman at the computer my crumbled up hundred dollars. As I leaned over the desk, panting – her eyes widened. Then she squinted at the desktop. “Uhhh, somebody bought you ten classes as a gift last week.”
What was happening here? The generous people outweighed the bad. So, waiting for yoga, I read a magazine story about a man who, as The World Trade Center burned, slowly lowered a colleague in a wheelchair one step at a time down 68 floors. They got out on time. Here was another incredibly kind person.
After doing enough downward dog and happy baby poses, I went to an air conditioned pizza place to wind down some more. I stretched my newly relaxed back and sighed. Glad to see one of my favorite waitresses, I murmured, “Wow, what a beautiful necklace on you!” She put her hands around it, as if in prayer, asking: “Do you want it?” My frizzy hair was standing straight up by now. I just couldn’t believe it. I stuttered, “I mean, it’s lovely…” She undid it from her neck and handed it to me. Now I have this gorgeous gold chain with a round golden ball dangling – just slightly above my heart.
What’s up with all this? Does the love you put out really come back to you? Were the stars on backwards up above? Is life really full of the good people and the not so good? How can life be so hard and so good too? Maybe Trump politics are so nasty they are making us all want to be kinder?
The lesson seems to be: what goes around comes around. What you put out comes back to you. For instance, in over 30 years of widely respected research, Psychologist John Gottman found that in good marriages, compliments outnumber criticisms by more than five to one.
If we were all more generous toward each other –couldn’t that change the world?
In Toronto, there’s a grocery store without price tags. Every provision is donated. The store has a pay-what-you–can bakery and café. Prices are entirely up to the customer. Profits are poured back into the store. More than 600 volunteers work there! It’s the latest from the nonprofit “Feed It Forward.”
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.