I've been spying on people lately.
Ok, actually, I've pretty much been spying on people my whole life. I LOOOOVE people watching, plus I am a little bit on the hermit side by nature so I tend to sit back and watch rather than delving into interactions with people. It's just part of who I am.
Anyway, lately I have seen person after person around me do small things to really spruce up the lives of people around them. These are (mostly) just tiny little pieces of happiness that one person strings onto the key chain of another person's life.
Like maybe someone holds the door an extra bit for the person coming into the building after them or maybe a friend gives a random hug because they think a person needs it. Perhaps one of my carpool kids (did I ever tell you I have the sweetest carpool kids ever) can see that another one is sad so they tell jokes or silly stories to try to coax a smile. Maybe you get a card in the mail from a sweet neighbor lady who only seems to see the good around her (that happened to me this week). Skateboarders who encourage younger kids trying to learn, dog walkers stopping to let passing children pet their pooches, sharers of hand-me-downs, singers of songs while walking the neighborhood, phone calls to check on someone, help to clean up when it isn't really your job, high fives in hallways for no reason, waving happily at the sign holding pizza guy on the corner, letting that guy with only a drink go ahead of you and your very loaded grocery cart in line...just so many tiny little bits of niceness sprinkled into the collective life of earthlings.
I love the idea that we are here in some way to leave this world better than we found it and I think for the most part this is exactly how we do it. Moment by moment, thought by thought, care by care.
We often see videos or read stories of people who make a gigantic impact through a kind act and I love those stories. They inspire me to want to be better. They make obvious the notion that touching someone's life for good has a rippling affect on the lives of others who will be touched as well.
But at the same time I wonder how many tiny acts those people performed that went relatively unnoticed long before the did something that stood out. I wonder how many times they tossed lesser pebbles into the pond of humanity before their boulder really made waves. I wonder how many times they made faces at a crying baby across an aisle or patted the arm of an exhausted mother in the grocery store before they saved the day in more dramatic fashion.
I'm not convinced those small acts are really so small at all. I've been that exhausted mother and felt the boost of someone just smiling and giving me a little pick-me-up. I've held that baby and been so grateful that someone took the time to try to help and even more that they chose not to judge me or act annoyed because my baby was struggling (which, I promise, is not what any parent wants the baby doing either).
Those big, flashy events are incredible. But I think it is mostly through little things -- almost invisible acts -- that we can really change each other's lives for good.
Mostly, I think, it is just taking a few small seconds to care about someone else, to see what they need instead of only what we want. To open the view and be a witness to the lives of our fellow travelers through life.
And then to act. That's where the power really comes. When we pull out of ourselves and our own little world for a tick of the clock and do something thoughtful, anything kind, to gently lure a creaking smile into the heart of another being.
We really are very powerful.
Of coarse, none of this is news to anyone. There are those awesome videos about strings of small acts that add up to something much more than any one of the individual pieces. I love those. I want to be part of that. When I finish up in this world and we get to the next life and get to watch the instant replay I hope I have a few cameo appearances in those "here's how the world was made better" films.
I know my life has been richly blessed by the momentary sweetness of others. I have been lifted and supported by friends and family and strangers who chose to fly solo and break formation by veering into my life for twinkling or two. It doesn't take a lot, and that's the beauty of it. You can change a life for the better, alter the coarse of an entire day, all in tiny flash of time.
I've been seeing that sort of thing around me an awful lot lately. I like seeing it. What a lovely movement.
I think I want to be part of that.