I realize there are many discouraging and disheartening things going on in the USA and this is what the media chooses to focus on, but I have had a very different experience of America as I travel around the country this summer. I have been witness to numerous acts of kindness and generosity for no personal gain to the giver.
At a rest stop I was buying bottled water from a vending machine when a young boy about twelve years old tapped me on the arm. “Ma’am you dropped this.”
I turned to see him handing me a twenty dollar bill! Stunned I replied, “Thank you! Where are your parents?”
“They’re in the bathroom.”
I waited for his parents to come back to tell them of the astounding choice their son had just made. He could have taken off with that money and I never would have known. I congratulated them on a job well done of raising him.
“Well, we don’t know if we had anything to do with it, he’s always been that way.”
I turn to the young man, “You will go far in life with integrity like that.” I give him another thank you as we high five.
I spent several weeks staying with friends as they hosted readings for me. Every one of them had dogs or cats and my asthma and allergies went through the roof. I got very sick. Even though it wasn’t in my travel budget, I decided to stay in a hotel that night to breathe clean air for 24 hours, and not have to put up my tent or sleep on the ground.
As I was checking in at the front desk I was coughing and wheezing, “I’m not contagious, I promise.” I told her of my asthma and why I was traveling around the country.
She checked her computer, “Ma’am I’m going to put you on the top floor so there is no noise above you to keep you up, and this room has lots of windows for beautiful fresh sunlight.”
“Thank you, does that room cost extra?”
She smiled, “Well yes it does, it’s our penthouse, but I’m not going to charge you because it seems like you really deserve a good healing rest.”
Tears spilled down my cheeks as I thanked her for her kindness. I desperately needed this to be able to rally and continue the tour.
At one of my book readings a man bought two books and I signed them for him. He then laid two more twenty dollar bills on the table.
I pull two more books off the stack, “Who would you like me to sign these to?”
“No one, this forty dollars is for two people somewhere along your tour who you know need to read this book and can’t afford it.”
“What?! You’re paying it forward?”
Tears pooled in my eyes.
Two days later I was driving down the road, moving on to the next city and two college students had their thumbs stuck out for a ride. I pulled over and invited them into Lexi. Their van had broken down and they needed a ride to the next town. Along the way we began talking and getting to know each other. Austin pulled a book from his pack about KIVA loans and the difference they are making in developing countries. I told him I was doing the same sort of thing when I was in Africa. As we parted ways with a hug, I gave them a copy of my book for no cost as a gift from the kind man who’d paid it forward. Then Austin and Krysten showed me to the most beautiful beach and I got my first siting of the Pacific Ocean on this trip. The kind man gave, I gave to them and they gave to me. A circle of stranger love.
We can learn from some of the awful things going on these days, but we can choose not to dwell on them and talk about them all day. Those stories perpetuate fear which causes us to live in an anxious state. We can decide instead, that we will look for the good and those will be our conversations. When someone brings up the junk, we will tell a story of kindness rather than perpetuate the negative.
I believe 98 percent of the human beings on this planet are full of goodness and we tend to ignore them. Instead we magnify the stories of the other two percent. Let’s make a choice today to give attention to the beautiful nature of so many giving people and live in that energy instead. Let’s give thanks that so many hearts are pure. Gratitude and anxiety cannot live in the same space.
(Shout out to my niece’s son, Noah, for reenacting the story with me for the photo)
You can download Part One of my book for free at lucettazaytoun.com