Today I'd like to reflect on some of the other relationships in our lives that often go uncelebrated. Even without a Kind Neighbors' Day, a Firefighters' Day or a Former Students' Day, we have opportunities a'plenty to reach out on any day of the week and express appreciation to the people who touch and have touched our lives.
Living here in the Bay Area's Silicon Valley, where even the small children seem to have fully scheduled calendars and being constantly "busy" continues to be de rigeur, the idea of taking some time to re-connect with someone who's meant something to you or to make contact with a stranger who's, perhaps, helping children safely cross the street, such an idea may seem quaint or 'Age of Aquarius-y'. I say that when you connect, you add life and pulse and meaning, both to the other and to your own life.
A former student of mine lit up what was otherwise a blue afternoon yesterday. With her permission, I'd like to share our exchange on Messenger.
Hi Bear, I'm not sure if I ever told you this story but thought I'd share it. It's about you teaching me to be more compassionate... I was with a group of girls eating lunch on the circle. You were walking by and heard me say "that sucks." You stopped and explained why it was a pejorative remark against gay people and I was so shocked- had never thought of that (I was probably 15 so really didn't totally understand the reference until I really thought about it). Anyway- since then I've worked with people with disabilities and have ALWAYS corrected people who say "retarded." Just thought I'd let you know you made me a better, more compassionate person ! Hope you're well!
Dearheart- I thank you, Andrea. I was just feeling a little blue when your lovely message arrived. Now I'm sitting here smiling with tears in my eyes. You've reminded me about how since we met I've tried to treat you as the person I immediately saw in you. Your best self. When I remember you, I see you smiling as you discovered your superpowers, I see you joining in with and encouraging others, I see you be smart AND pretty! Again, thank you, dear friend, for sharing a memory (that I recall very clearly, too). Be well, Bear
Love you, Bear! Thank you for that great lesson. I'm not sure all gay or queer teachers would have had the guts to give that lesson! I appreciate it more than I can express! Andrea
Out of the blue. And I was lifted out of my blues.
When I was that age as a kid that being out in public with my mom felt awkward or embarrassing, when she'd chat up the cashier at the Co-op or start a conversation with a young mother pushing a baby stroller, I'd blush and stand at a distance. Looking back, I'm grateful that I got over that judgmentalism in short order. Nowadays it's me who's chatting up strangers and sending notes out of the blue.
Andrea had the impulse to reconnect and then she followed through! You notice that a co-worker's hair looks different and you tell her that you like her new look. You come across a Facebook post that reminds you of someone you've been out of touch with, and you drop them a note or send a photo. Your neighbor is getting up on a ladder and you scurry over to hold it steady. These are not so much "random acts of kindness" as they are "unexpected moments of connectedness."
In our dazzling days of internet connectivity, let us remember that each day provides us with ample moments, both face-to-face and via technology, to re-connect with our world. When so many big issues feel out of our control, how we each relate to our world is up to each of us. And there's no time like the present. Connect. Now.