What keeps me warm
- Created on Friday, 09 December 2011 06:00
It was early on a cold Wednesday morning, and I was riding a near empty bus through Minneapolis. Bleary-eyed and sleepy—and still without my morning coffee—I gazed out into the blue grey morning, thinking of nothing in particular.
Then, close behind me, I heard a soft sound, something between a sigh and a laugh, a little stifled moan that came and went as quickly as it came. My ears perked up, tuned in to this noise so out of the ordinary on the city bus. Sure enough, it came again, and this time I became more certain. What I was hearing was the sound of someone crying in the seat behind me.
There is no lack of things to make us feel all alone in this world. As the seasons edge closer to the darkness of winter, we might even feel them a bit more acutely: memories of loved ones long passed; the knowledge of hungry children halfway around the world—or, right next door; the sound of a woman crying on a city bus; and our inability of knowing how to help her.
This time of year is often difficult for me, and in that fact I know I am not alone. The days grow colder and shorter with no end in sight. Sleep, though something of a refuge, seems not to help even when we have enough. And no matter how much I fill my days with candles, blankets and warm mugs filled with hot beverages, my body flatly rejects the heat.
Instead, what warms me in this darkest month of the year is finding small acts of generosity to brighten up the days. As uncomfortable as it feels at first, chatting with a stranger--and seeing her smile--makes my step a little bit lighter. Though it may seem trite, after giving a donation to an organization I trust, or making a phone call to support an issue I believe in, I feel as if I have done a small thing to improve the world.
The list can go on: cook a meal for a friend or family who needs the help; create a silly mix-tape (okay, fine, or maybe just a playlist) of classic songs for an old friend; offer a hug to someone who needs it. These things are so small, but they can do so much to keep all of us afloat.
Give it a try. How's that feel? Something akin to warm mug on a cold day, I hope.
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