“We we’re just talking about you,” he said. “Where’re you headed?” I asked. “A funeral out of town for a friend.” I felt embarrassed, as he’d told me the day before, but wrapped up in my aches, I’d already forgotten. I wished them a safe trip and couldn’t help but think how much more potent funerals must feel for her, as she was a cancer survivor. As quickly I recalled how, although we were not close friends when she used to live here, she’d out of the blue written me to generously offer accommodations in their new home if I ever wanted to get away to the peace of their near-ocean sanctuary.
I continued toward the art museum where I was working. At the next light a raggedly-clothed pedestrian was attempting to cross before the light changed. As she did, another car turned into her path, oblivious of her. Fortunately the walker was alert and stepped back. As the light changed, the car facing me stopped and rather than rush to work, waited for the pedestrian’s passage. I followed suit. The woman hurried across and waved a sincere thank you.
A second car had been behind the first considerate driver. I now waited for them to pass so I could turn left, instead, the kindness seemed catchy, and they waved me through. I gestured thanks, and made a mental note of the contagious nature of simple kindnesses that aren’t looking for payback.
As I drove the last few blocks into the heart of downtown a light rain began to fall. Slowing as I rolled up to the market building crosswalk, I caught sight of a burly, bearded man walking toward me. Almost hidden by his girth was a two foot tall toddler in a pink hooded slicker, wearing bright yellow rubber boots. He was delicately but firmly holding her hand, which seemed barely the size of his thumb. I stopped and motioned him to cross. He nodded a smile that was the radiant smile of a patient yet proud poppa with a child who has only recently learned to walk. As they slowly made their way to the market stalls on the opposite side, I noticed the driver of the stopped car facing me was beaming as well.
All these exchanges added at most two minutes to my little ten minute commute. Yet my petty aches had vanished, my focus was entirely re-oriented, and suddenly I was more aware of the light glowing everywhere in my small part of the world.