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I currently have someone in my life who’s keen on helping others. In like ‘very’. For a minute, I thought it had just to do with me, and it made me feel immensely precious and special… but it’s just a way of being, really.
It made me think about my way of giving. Sure, I’ll hold the door for you – even when I don’t know you. I’ll helpfully try to keep the elevator doors from closing if I see you diving head first for the opening… but I’m not going to lose my arm over it. But chances are that if you have a ton of groceries to carry up to the 5th floor of the building, I’ll all of a sudden get a silent yet very important imaginary call that I absolutely have to take while making my own way up the stairs.
And yeah… I care for you. I will donate you a dollar if you come to brighten up my subway ride with a song. My heart will break when I see you making a cardboard camp for the night. But to offer you my shoulder to lean on through the hard times, my advice when you need a truthful answer to your problem and my help when you have to lift a heavy piece of furniture… I’d have to know you a little better. You know, just in case I need to ask for help one day, too.
Last night, as I carried a small garbage bag of the stairs, one of my elderly neighbors was making her way down too. The lady had a cart full of laundry that she carefully rolled off the steps. Step by step, it’s heaviness obvious, her age reflecting in the slow movements she made.
I smiled a polite hello while I passed her… to stop in my tracks instantly. I turned around and asked if she needed help, but she smiled at me, thanked me in Spanish and nodded that she had it covered.
I took five more steps and then stopped again… there were still 3 flights of stairs left. So I decided not to take no for an answer, and said: “you know what… no, please let me help you take this down.” And that is what I did.
I got a hug out of it.
And the feeling that I actually did something that mattered. Maybe not for the world, but definitely for this woman… and very definitely for me.
I never thought small things like this, small gestures of lending a helping hand – even when it’s unasked for – could brighten a night into day.
More of that.