Monday, February 28, 2011

A Moment of Thankfulness

Sometimes the universe is kind enough to place things in your path, but you still have to do the work to get there. Unfortunately, arriving a half hour early to the Beastly screening wasn’t quite enough. The last person to get in was about ten people ahead of me.

So it was a bummed out T ride home. The train was packed so tight, I couldn’t even get out my book to read. I guess my day must have shown on my face, because this nice gentleman insisted that I take his seat, mistaking my disappointment for weariness. (Perhaps he wasn’t mistaken at all.) I refused at first, but he was persistent. It was all I could to do thank him as emotion welled up in my throat.

It was amazing he had noticed at all, much less done something. You see, there is a certain studied way of ignoring people that becomes ingrained in frequent transit riders. Everyone else in the car is invisible. Still, he saw me. He may never think about this again, but his small act of consideration was a balm.

After the gentleman got off, I saw a younger man graciously give up his seat to a middle-aged woman. I can’t help but think my stranger’s willingness to stand may have made this fellow’s feet a little lighter. That spark of good intentions and its chain reaction certainly made me more buoyant.

When I got home, I tucked into a leftover Oscar cupcake before cracking open Lucy, my laptop. Waiting in my inbox was a lovely email from a stranger letting me know about a book reviewing program. I had never interacted with her in any capacity before (this changes now—Hi, Jennifer!) but she took time out of her life to tell me about this opportunity. She had nothing to gain. The infinite capacity of human beings for kindness overwhelms me sometimes.

The universe can be cruel. Chance and odds and luck make suckers out of us all. We get wounded by “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,“ and we forget how fortunate we are. We forget that the “wild winds of fortune” are often at our backs, propelling us forward even as they are buffeting us.

I may be rambling, but I’ll try and wrap things up by going on a complete tangent. There was a morale-boosting poster produced by the British government at the start of World War II. It was rediscovered in the last decade, so now the “Keep Calm and Carry On” slogan graces the houses of design-savvy and stressed folks alike. As with any trend, there have been waves of backlash (“I liked it before it was cool”) and parodies (“Keep Calm and Conjure a Patronus Charm”), some more clever than others. The spin I love best is simple, keeping in the spirit of the original: “Work Hard and Be Nice to People.” I intend to.

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