I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Paying it forward

Skagit Valley daffodils

 I overslept this morning, and I've got a massage scheduled early, so here goes a Sunday post with little to no idea what I've got to say. It's always a little bit disconcerting to awake and find that half my morning is already gone, and I am already feeling less than serene. This picture was taken last Sunday when my friend Lily and I drove to the Skagit Valley, hoping for tulips but seeing very few, although the daffodils were in full bloom! Gazing at that picture does bring me a little more serenity.

We've had a very cool spring, and everything is behind. But coming up this week we've got a big change in the works: a week (at least) of above-normal temperatures, and everything should catch up quickly. The weather has been really strange in so many places in the world, probably because of climate change, they say, but who knows for sure? We are still in the grip of the coronavirus in much of the world, as well as countless wars and rumors of war everywhere. It's a very unsettled time in the history of the world.

And here we are, right in the middle of it all. We in the United States had the first presidential election in our history where there was not a peaceful transfer of power, with an insurrection on January 6th, and many people still not convinced in the legitimacy of President Biden. It has caused so much strife and difficulty already, and I fear there is more to come. Not since the 1960s have so many citizens marched in the streets for change. And now almost everyone has at least one gun and I wake up every day to learn of another mass shooting in my country. It's inexplicable, and many of them seem random, making me more fearful for my safety and for those around me.

There are so many homeless and hopeless people in Bellingham, and it seems to be increasing daily. As I sat in the cab of my friend John's truck yesterday as we enjoyed our coffee together, at least six homeless people walked by, some with all their belongings in a grocery cart, few dressed appropriately for the cold weather. And a few obviously in a bad mental state, shouting and cursing at everyone they see. It's a very depressing state of affairs.

However, for now we do have a functioning government, and there are places for those without homes to get some food, even as many of them are huddled in doorways in inadequate sleeping bags, trying to sleep with all their belongings surrounding them. There are homeless shelters, but many of these unfortunate people don't go there because of the rules they must follow. And they must leave each morning to walk the streets. At least we are in springtime, and the weather will soon warm and make life a tiny bit easier for them. I fear that the trickle of homeless will soon become a flood, along with all the pain and suffering that we will all be forced to endure.

Not that it seems to be any better in other countries. I shudder to read every morning about what is happening in other parts of the world, where military are executing their own citizens in Myanmar, where innocents are being starved to death in Syria and other places, and where governments are teetering on the brink of collapse. Is it just me, or is the world really in worse shape than ever? The pandemic is raging in most countries, and we endured a horrible year in 2020. People want a scapegoat and are going after Asian Americans, as if they had anything to do with the virus.

Bad times, hard times, this is what people keep saying; but let us live well, and times shall be good. We are the times: Such as we are, such are the times. —Saint Augustine

What do you suppose St. Augustine means by that statement? That if I can live well, times shall be good? My life is pretty darn good, and I have a roof over my head and hopefully no bullets will come through my windows. I can sit in my bed on a dark Sunday morning and ponder the state of everything. I don't know how to go forward when times are so bad everywhere around me. I feel almost guilty for my good fortune, when I see so many others suffering. If there is a way for me to make the world a better place, I ask for guidance to find that path.

First of all, I realize that even in the midst of so much suffering, there is plenty to be grateful for. Yesterday I observed several acts of kindness that were unexpected by the recipients, and I saw that and even offered one myself. Kindness is catching. I realize now that is the way forward for me: find ways to spread more kindness through my own little world, and life will get better. If everyone could find a way to be kind today, we can spread that benign virus into the world. Perhaps that is what St. Augustine means by living well. What do you think?

Paying it forward is also something that can help spread kindness through the world. I read not long ago about a long line of people in cars waiting to get a chance to buy coffee, and one person paid for the coffee of the people in the car behind them, and that started a chain that went on for 11 hours, from morning to evening. You can read about it here

Upon realizing as I sit here writing, there are definitely many ways for me to become part of the solution instead of part of the problem. Life gives us, every day, choices to make that can either brighten the world around us, or allow us to fall into despair and consent to its becoming darker. I was well on my way to darkness until I asked for guidance and found that article. Yes, it is possible for my small little self to make things better by looking for ways to spread kindness in my immediate environment.

One of the ways I can also spread kindness is to ask my readers to start a chain of kindness in their own lives. That would be you, my dear friend, and perhaps this day will become bright enough to light many sparks that will change the world. And with that admonition, I hope to feel that this bright new day will offer many of us a new beginning. 

My dear partner still sleeps next to me, my tea is long gone, and I am ready to begin the rest of my day. I will be getting a massage in a few short hours, and that will help me, too. I hope that your day will be bright with promise and lots of love, dear friends. Until we meet again next week, be well. 


gigi-hawaii said...

Haha. Well enjoy your massage. Life can't be any better for you at least.

Linda Myers said...

I'm an optimist by nature. I don't own a gun. I have friendly neighbors and I am friendly myself. I have enough food and money and good healthcare. I am grateful.

Elephant's Child said...

I hope your massage is therapeutic and blissful.
I love the idea of starting a (world-wide) chain of kindness. Thank you.

ApacheDug said...

That sure is a wonderful photo of the daffodils, I can't imagine such a sight in person. I am a lot more comforted to see sane, conscientious adults like Joe Biden, Kamala Harris & other Democrats in charge of things... the more that Republicans gnash their teeth, the more I know our country is headed in the right direction (for awhile at least). Still...it is a very harsh world beyond our own borders, and for what I have I am very grateful. And the older I get, the less I take for granted. DJan, I am going to read your piece here again, it was that nice. I hope your week is filled with nice things like all those daffodils.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Such pretty Daffodils...they are such a wonderful happy sunny color!
Wear your mask, keep your distance and be a helper when you can.
Smile...God is incharge and he knows our needs before we do:)

Arkansas Patti said...

I too have been feeling the hopelessness in this troubled world. The anger, hate, cruelty, and just gasp worthy news events. But while that is overwhelming, you are right that we can make a difference, one act of kindness at a time. We read about all the wrongs but sadly the good rarely gets the same amount of press. Yes there are bad people and bad deeds but when I look into my own circle, I see some really fine caring people--like you. Let's make that circle larger.

William Kendall said...

Wisely said.

Gigi said...

I like to think that as we go through our daily lives, sprinkling kindness along the way, that we ARE making the world a better place - despite what the news tells us. I also like to think that making our little pieces of the world better by encouraging others to look up and see that they can do the same. (Yes, I am feeling rather Pollyanna-ish today - but it's so much better than the alternative)

Have a wonderful week, DJan and know that these posts are sprinkling kindness and love across the world to all your readers - I am grateful to have you in my life.

Red said...

We can't just sit back and ask our leaders to do everything. You're right that w have to do something. My question is , "How do we keep our leaders being responsible?" right now a bunch of yahoos have been elected and they just keep yelling silly things at each other.

Marie Smith said...

A chain of kindness. It sounds positive in these trying times.. I will talk to our grandchildren about it too.

Rian said...

Yes, in a world where you can be anything... be kind.

Rita said...

Here! Here! :)

Patricia in southern Minnesota said...

Beautifully said.

Anvilcloud said...

For not knowing what to write about, you did very well indeed. In point of fact, you did well, period. Your weekly musings are very good.

Barbara Rogers said...

You've given good thoughtful advice, and I am among the recipients of other's kindness these days, so am very full of gratitude. I hope our politics, and gun violence will eventually settle down, and that the good aspects that each person has will win out over the angers that are currently being expressed. Thank you.