I’ll be the first to admit: America’s post-pandemic economy and post-pandemic societal norms are slowly robbing me of the will to live. Everything costs too much. Everyone’s tired of each other’s shit. People honk their horns and flip birds at each other over the slightest perceived transgression. (I confess I almost daily want to ramrod someone with my own vehicle.) Boundaries are subjective and unclear and therefore disrespected and overruled on a near-daily basis. Nothing is sacred, and yet somehow everything is sacred, and how dare you not know the difference. Microagressions abound, and you don’t even have to mean to hurt someone to be taken to the mat and given a dressing down best reserved for people who wipe boogers on things. Your bedroom is your office, the workday has faux bookends, and cc fields on emails are where wars are waged. It’s very confusing. Oh, and everything’s made in China and will stop working the second you brush your arm against it. Perhaps most concerning of all: Some lady on social media with a wad of gum wedged in her molars seems hellbent on selling me crotch deodorant. (Hi, Lume! I’m accepting free samples!)
But I know this to be true: Whatever we humans train our attention on will appear larger than it is. People who rescue dogs are forever stumbling across strays. People who collect heart-shaped rocks find them every time they look down on a hike. If you love owls or pink sunrises, model trains or vintage cars, big noses or small ears–whatever floats your boat–I guarantee that you see these all over the place and far more often than other people do. By that same reasoning, when you look for wrinkles, you find them. This blog is about seeking more pink sunrises and fewer wrinkles. On that note…
My son finished up junior high this week, and the school parent-teacher organization sold custom graduation yard signs as a way to raise funds while honoring the occasion. I bought one and placed it in the front yard. It just says, “Congratulations, Beckett! Class of 2023 [School Name] Junior High School!” Nothing fancy.
Mind you, in our new neighborhood, people communicate only through the same three barking dogs that wake us all up in unison each day. They don’t actually know each other or seem particularly interested in changing that. So I had no delusions anyone other than my son was going to read or care about the sign. But then an envelope showed up the day after I posted the sign. It was wedged in our front door, and this was what was inside:
How sweet was this? How thoughtful and kind? How generous? It made such a big impact on all of us and was a very bright spot in a seemingly endless string of stressors in our lives. In response, my husband picked up a nice card in the grocery store. My son wrote inside, “It’s good to know that there are people like you in the world.” I walked with him to the address listed in the card–several streets away from us, as it turned out–and we knocked on the door, hoping to meet these neighbors in person. They weren’t home, so we left the card in their own front door and walked home together holding hands, him chattering away in his cracking voice about one day traveling to Norway, plans to audition for jazz band, how exclamation points are announced in some African languages, the reason he doesn’t want a cell phone, and a zillion other things that I wouldn’t have otherwise heard had we not set out on that walk to meet the nice strangers. Through one single act of kindness, they created such joy!
If you are having a seemingly endless string of stressors or wanting to ramrod strangers with your car, I highly recommend giving yourself a homework assignment to notice something good each day. Fewer wrinkles, more sunrises. It’s contagious, and it helps.