I came across this poster for sale at a local store in Polson, Montana on Thursday (see above).
Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
What an important and lovely verse to carry with us on our path of developing values and in our tool bag of practices. Too often, we set our life up to be happy, to be content, to be full of gratitude later on, at some undisclosed date in the future. We hinge our happiness on acquiring something or someone or some experience that isn’t happening in the here and now. What if instead of tomorrow or next week or next year being the best time we can envision, it was today? Game changer.
Over the past two days, I’ve had three encounters with strangers that prompted this writing I penned this morning:
even when it’s counter-intuitive –
especially when it’s counter-intuitive.
Rally kindness when you don’t feel like it;
when a situation seemingly calls for its opposite;
when it’s hard as hell to do it.
in body, speech, mind,
and in spirit.
Rally kindness so that it becomes
the lens through which you see the world;
so that it becomes the soles of your shoes
and the air you breathe, in and out.
If we choose not to rally kindness –
and yes, it is a choice –
amid challenging times with difficult people,
we will never stand a chance
of growing a garden of love and inclusiveness,
to cover the world over.
Here are the three encounters I had:
- Litter lady
- 3 disturbing teens on a lake
- Loud talker on a cell phone in a public space lady
In each encounter, I had no personal interaction with the person(s) mentioned above. And in each case, my “this isn’t right” button was triggered. For me, as soon as I have the thought this isn’t right, I know it’s an indication to rally my practice of kindness; to practice restoring my “this day is the best day” mentality; to soften my heart and allow whoever it was that triggered my button inside its embrace, instead of hardening up and keeping them at bay, labeling them as separate from me and “other.”
Encounter #1: I was sitting in my car with the window down, stationed at the lovely Sacajawea Park in Polson, Montana on Thursday evening, when I witnessed a lady in an SUV leaving the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant roll down her window and drop an empty pack of smokes on the ground, before driving away. My “this isn’t right” button was triggered as soon as I heard the smack of the pack hit the asphalt. Anymore, when I see litter out and about, my first assumption is that it was likely accidental, so this lady really turned that on its head. This lady was the most intentional litter bug I’ve ever seen. I got out of my car, trotted over to pick up the pack, and disposed of it in a trash can nearby. Then, I set to the work of rallying kindness and care for that person, in the spirit of my heart and in the quality of my mental chattering.
Encounter #2: I was waterside, pumping up my SUP board for its inaugural 2019 summer excursion at Yellowbay State Park on the Flathead Lake, enjoying the pleasure of being the only one on site, when 3 young teens, accompanied by 2 adults, came and crashed down the tranquil quietude with their teenagerness. Their heightened exuberance and cynical nature was made louder by the serene setting and I found them, at once, terribly disruptive. We shared a small beach, and I still had another few PSI to hand-pump up to on my board, so there was no where to go to get away from their brash rantings. In response to one of the adults talking about how they would all be going on a hike later on, one of the teens whined dramatically: Do we HAVE to?! and another said: Last time I went on a hike I almost DIED! And that was one of the more tolerable verbal exchanges I overheard. Once again, I noticed quickly how affronted I felt by their presence, and worked to change the channel of my attitude. It was clear that as soon as my board was properly inflated, I’d be heading off away from the noise, but as long as I was on shore, I also still had a choice as to how to respond to the situation. I could internally seethe with rage and judgement OR I could rally kindness of spirit and thought. And I’ll tell you, even if it had no impact on the others there (which, how could it not? we’re all connected energetic beings, after all), the decision to rally kindness impacted my experience, in the remaining time it took me to finish pumping up my board.
Encounter #3: Yesterday, before heading back home from the lake, I popped into a really good thrift store in Polson. Not only did it have lots of stuff and variety but the prices were super affordable – and, as a bonus, the proceeds went to support the local animal shelter. Win, win, win! As I was strolling around, I was suddenly made abruptly aware of a woman talking quite loudly. In short order, I discovered she was on her cell phone and having a conversation that was not at all imperative to have whilst walking through a thrift store. She seemed completely oblivious to the fact that others were around sharing space with her and that we might not be all that keen in listening to her prattle on. I tried getting away from her but she continued to follow my same trajectory through the store. And so there it was: another opportunity to practice rallying kindness. In this case, I used my practice of smiling, to help support my endeavor. I still felt the pangs of annoyance and heard the faint whisper of me thinking “well, shoot, this isn’t right,” but the act of smiling did help me hold the space open for kindness to enter my heart and mind.
As I often like to say: there is no such thing as an insignificant moment. Every little bit of practice helps. Truly.
And so this is me, continuing to practice; continuing to rally kindness; continuing to see where my work is, and then, to do the work, with as much intention and authenticity and joy as I can muster on up.