Admission into the school of gratitude is free. The only real ‘cost’ is our attention, which I believe is comprised when we choose to ignore those around us. It’s funny to me how we rely on other humans from the instant we begin our life journey, yet we’re often taught to be self-sufficient as a sort of medallion of achievement. Today’s offering of writing is a reckoning of responsiveness. I gravitate toward callings. I keep searching for my own singular voice in all the purposes in the world. Every now and again, I stumble into a world so different than my own but placed right there in my path. Maybe I took that street turn or glanced sideways to see them by some divine directional pull. No matter why, although essentially it is part of my why, I find myself engaged in a dominant merciful motif.
The world will give you that once in awhile, a brief timeout; the boxing bell rings and you go to your corner, where somebody dabs mercy on your beat-up life. ~Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees
While life renders itself a rotation of continual cause and effect, patterning an empathetic system of response is kindred to the fame of Jesus laying his hands on souls that may be cured of evils and ailments. Connection is the finite root of appreciation. What stems along this vine are splinters of cognizance that allow us to witness probabilities. Any of us might quickly have the tables turned in a quick or prolonged state of changes. Earthquakes, accidents, faults, and the unforeseen roar like lions in our midst. One cannot easily produce gratefulness without realization of mutual blessings. My day compared to the life of any bereft other permits me calm whenever I am losing my shit with pessimism. When I am upwards of the flying kites, in a whirlwind of jubilation from the tender text proclaiming my beauty or the confirmation of a conscious consulting client, that similar skill to bring the good into whatever surrounds me is a stake of which I’d like more of us in this game of life to commit.
A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just. ~Pope Francis
Two men thus far have selflessly altered my life this summer. They didn’t even intend to, but such are the synergies of certain strangers. Eugene Jones is a heartbreaker, except not in the loving sense I would typically prefer to infer. I’d just pulled away in my car from a semi-sketchy stretch of Los Angeles city when I first noticed him. He was a pile of human and multiple layers of clothing laying haphazardly smack in the middle of the cross street to a major boulevard of constant traffic. A large shopping cart was strewn on its side next to him, all of which was taking up the bulk of that road. No cars or people were stopping. I was incredulous to the sight, late for work already, however, determined I needed to assess my new immediate motive to get him to the side in the least. I punched my vehicle into a 360, flicked my hazard lights on, and kept my mobile phone handy. He was weathered and had too much brandy in his brain, still clutching the near-empty bottle. I approached him slowly, spoke with serenity, kept repeating aloud to him how much he was loved and worked to engross eye contact.
Those eyes were crystal clear baby blues. I could stare at his beauty for days, matching the fashion taste of his shiny silver rings of uniqueness donning almost all of his fingers. He had a sharp cut above his right eye that was bleeding a lot. I talked him through letting me dab my napkin against his thick skin to apply pressure and assuage the blood flow. He had immense strength, despite is disposition. I was faltering in my ability to hold him upright long enough to get myself under him to edge him to the curb. Finally, a young Hispanic couple who’d done one lap nearby came closer to ask if help was needed. Likewise, the shop keeper who’d been watching everything play out from across the busy congestion in front of us scurried over to give his support. I’d managed to dial 911 to explain my concern for his head injury during all of this action, as we found him some shade after the men lifted him off of the pavement.
I’d barely let go of his warm palm gripped with mine since our intercourse began. I wanted him to feel my sincerity and affection to honor him as a person who mattered, no matter what hand he’d been dealt. He’d spent the bulk of a half hour like steady irregular heartbeats bouncing back and forth: “Thank you” ~ a solemn puddle of tears prayer it seemed to look straight into and through me for the light it reflected back to me, or “I don’t want youuuuuuu to help me” ~ from the broken child inside clamoring to keep his head above waters aiming to drown him. He was rightfully bewildered, even more so when the flashing lights of the gentle paramedics arrived to take over. Whatever was lost, I truly hope he finds sooner than later.
You will achieve what you want to achieve, only if you can cope with the theory of altruism. ~Michael Bassey Johnson
Compassion is a missing merger amongst too many of our lives. The second gentleman to twist a string of fate around my existence goes by the nickname ‘Mode’. Being that I’ve had a nickname my entire life, I’ve got some innate fondness for anyone who has given names coupled with solid aliases. I was persistently headed to a writers academy workshop that my beloved annual summit gathering was presenting. Having noted the course was being held at a library, I’d granted an extra hour’s worth in my steps to allow myself the chance to see if I could obtain a visitors library card for this Multnomah County Library space (as part of my ongoing libraries bucket list quest in this frame ~ spoiler: declined to anyone outside the state, but I digress). This was where the ironies arose to the occasion.
I don’t have power-walking down to a science. Meaning, it’s a bit of gamble if I end up with ample lead time, or just a smidge before my required arrival. Usually, any shortcoming in my duration measurements had loads to do with the street art I’m passing and photographing. That being said, and largely depending on my location (familiarity with it or not as well), I’m navigating construction, different routes than the map suggests for character of conviction in taking unknown paths with equidistance, and the random group of stragglers or a homeless person. This flip side of Portland didn’t disappoint, as it brought all of the above. Now, I’m not one to circumvent my itinerary due to a seeming vagrant with a sign. Mode’s handwritten slice of cardboard was wholly unparalleled for me, as it read “HOMELESS AUTHOR”. With a spacious forty-five minutes until I needed to be available in the session, here was a fluke of luck I couldn’t resist.
Mode’s story was peacefully volunteered as soon as I shook his hand and introduced myself as someone wanting to listen to what he had to share, especially being a fellow author of sorts (this blog and the slippage of poetry when moved) on my way to learn more about writing. His honest smile mixed with heavy topical punch: rape culture is no small conversation (outlandishly that he is a male victim in this acutely feminine dynamic), in addition to smalltime heroism where he was kicked out of his home after coming to the aid of elderly women evicted from their mutual section 8 housing. I found this man intelligent, humble, and motivated. He never once asked me for money, though I noted he desired cash. Instead, we discussed politics, government, nonprofit, and publishing. When I heard he had a blog, I questioned if there was a way to reach him in raw anticipation I garnered some connections to share with him. We exchanged numbers and an email. Within two days I’d secured some useful intel about literary agents for him and sorted a plan to gift him a two-month subscription to the Publishers Marketplace service to encourage his intention to deliver his chronicle through a book.
She knows herself to be at the mercy of events, and she knows by now that events have no mercy. ~Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin
Satisfaction is a savory delicacy you hunger to linger on your tongue before your innards engulf whatever capable of admitting sustenance into your system that travels onward without taste. Identically, we may only succumb to that we choose. Surrender catches our tolerance and indulgence all at once. Benevolently blending our high and low notes breeds harmony. I don’t care if you’ve landed a silver platter and never been made to walk the fire of a night without a home. It doesn’t trouble me if you’re aching for a crumb of food, unbathed, moreover, there is a mansion close by brimming with servants catering to any need. Kindness is a product of design. You get to make it as much or as often as you wish. Only that I am now the beggar pleading you to sign up for a part in the play of life where you stop, mindfully step into the shoes I presume you never have to wear and complete the circle of life by thinking of someone outside of yourself whenever you are able.
I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy. ~Og Mandino
Life missions filled with mottos of magnanimity inherit eternal grace.