On my way to the airport in California this week, I was caught up in the me-me-me that travel sometimes entails. My ride was late, my hotel bill had an error, my stomach was rumbling, my mind was preoccupied.
When I finally looked up from my phone, this smiley sight greeted me, the work of someone on the big construction site along the road. Instead of slashing random vents into the fencing cloth, they’d taken the time to carve hundreds of happy faces instead. Who knows how many days have been brightened by this choice?
Dear ones, we can’t always muster up the wherewithal to choose smiles over slashes.
But let us thank the ones who do,
and join them when we can.
Small Kindnesses, by Danusha Lameris
I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead — you first,” “I like your hat.”