Ten seconds. Two strangers. One random act of kindness. One profound impact.
After the accident, my mobility quickly deteriorated. I hadn’t yet discovered the therapeutic power of chiropractic adjustments. Literally, overnight, I went from an active existence (ie: working full-time, deadlifting weights with a trainer, biking) to barely moving. I spent hours in what physiotherapists call the “recovery position”: laying on a yoga mat with a cervical roll under my neck and legs up on the couch at a 90 degree angle. I lived on pain killers, muscle relaxants and microwave meals. Getting out of bed, dressing myself and brushing my hair became my daily activity goals. Putting on my shoes was an act of determination and effort.
In spite of the excruciating pain, I made a commitment with myself to go for a walk on most days. Something inside me just knew that there were great therapeutic benefits to walking. I persevered.
While living in a large city has many benefits, it is not usually a setting “where everybody knows your name” as the Cheers theme song declares. As millions of people rush through the city to get to diverse destinations, there, indeed, is a sense of being anonymous. Bright lights. Big city. Rush, Rush, Rush!
On one particular day, as usual, I was focusing on just putting one foot in front of the other and breathing. (Did you know that when you are in pain, there is a tendency to hold your breath?) As I was walking, the shoelace of my sneaker had become undone. At that point, bending over and tying my shoe seemed like a feat for Hercules. I always told my primary students to tie up their shoes “for safety” and here I was breaking my own rule!
Seemingly, out of nowhere, a woman approached me and asked if she could tie my shoelace. Shocked, humbled and swallowing my pride, I just nodded. This woman, then and there, bowed before me and tied my lace. My eyes filled with tears as I thanked her. She disappeared, once again, into the urban crowd.
This past week, a friend posted a picture of the sun poking through the fog; it had a profound impact on me. That woman’s act of kindness–the tying of my shoelace–was like the sun emerging through my own personal fog! Did she see that I needed help? Yes! Did she know that my world was in darkness, that the image of the transport trailer truck’s grill was burned into my peripheral vision and that the world felt so unsafe to me? Of course not for she was a stranger. Yet her act of bowing down before me was like an act of service. Her tying of my shoelace was the first step in restoring my post-accident faith in humanity.
So in the spirit of Hanukkah, Christmas and all other celebrations of light, bless all who engage in acts of kindness for the uplifting of humanity on Earth.
Let kindness reign,
For a smile is free.
Let me know that, just for this moment, life is supportive,
In stranger, friend or family.
May my heart stay wide open,
In the midst of the pain,
To see the goodness in humanity,
And find strength to start again.
Photo Credits: “Sun through the fog” by Gordon B. Header by LisaSharpeArt.