A Radical Idea

Now I’m not about to pontificate like some hippy guru coming down from her cabin in the Vermont mountains, but please, take a look at the picture below. That’s our universe. It’s where we live. See how small we are?  See how absolutely minuscule our existence is in the grand scheme of things? We’re pretty much a drop in the bucket and that’s being generous.

I don’t mean to say this to be depressing. Quite the opposite, truth be told. It’s supposed to be a reminder that before we get livid over political differences, religious beliefs, or even just the people who cut in front of us in traffic, we should remember that we’re really sort of insignificant in this vast web of gases and atoms.

Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t be involved in what’s going on in our world today, especially politically speaking (goodness knows, we have to be now, more than ever), or that we should give up on our faith to placate someone else… what I am saying however, is that when it comes to arguing with strangers online or with Uncle John at the next family dinner — neither of whom will be listening anyway, because they’re so entrenched in their own mindset — maybe rethink your participation in an argument that will only serve to create stress and anxiety for you and will likely end up being more of a name-calling contest than a civil debate anyway.

Instead of getting enraged, how about we just focus on being nice to each other? That’s it — just be nice. Pretty simple, right?  I just think that as we rotate around our gargantuan sun that in itself is part of an unimaginably vast galaxy within an inconceivable array of other galaxies (with the potential of other dimensions that could be just as large), let’s just try to make the ride a little more pleasant for each other.

And let’s not include just humans in that concept – include animals, too.  Be nice to other living creatures.  I mean, really, how hard is that?  When you sit down and think about it, it just seems like the most logical thing to do.

However, I know it will never happen on a large scale because we’re human after all, and something as simple as “being nice” would just never work for our species as a whole. It’s beyond us, which is sad, really. But imagine what we could accomplish if we could pull off this amazing yet simplistic feat!  The issues that could be settled and the problems that could be resolved are boundless.

So maybe we start small.  Maybe smile at that neighbor who is always grumpy or hold the elevator for that person who is obviously late.  Perhaps throw some food to the stray you usually shoo away.  Or give some change to the homeless person you always try to ignore as you make your way to work.  Maybe realize that your kids can have a bad day too so you ignore the half-made bed that would normally spawn a lecture, and instead pull out a family board game.  It should all be so easy, really.

And the craziest part of this hare-brained idea is that the world, which is already so overwhelmed with stress and worry, would actually become a better place, allowing for less and less stuff to be stressed and worried about.  I know….ironic, right?


So. Apparently I have issues with walking now. Crossing the street at a red light today I twisted my ankle and nearly fell out right there in the middle of the intersection. Now albeit, we’re talking small town…Mayberry small…so it’s not like I was in any danger of being run over or causing a massive traffic jam or anything like that.  There are exactly two traffic lights in my entire town, this being one of them. So, yeah. We’re Small Town, USA.  But still. Not exactly something you want to have happen, falling out in the middle of an intersection, even if it is a one-horse-town.

I made it across the street okay – I mean, if I hadn’t, we’d be having a completely different conversation as I’d be dead from embarrassment and it’s sort of hard to carry on a conversation with dead people. Unless I was a zombie.  But even then, all I’d be able to do is grunt and groan and maybe, if you follow the newer movies, screech.  I guess we’d have to resort to charades. And I suck at charades. So all in all, while my ankle and foot hurt like hell, the situation ended well.  Ha!  Made a rhyme AND I’m not a zombie.  All is good with the world.

Anyway, as soon as it happened, my mind immediately went into overdrive because the last thing I wanted to do was to be stuck there, in the middle of this freakin’ intersection with a sprained ankle, or just as bad, my back going out because of the sudden jolt of panic and weird ballet contortion maneuver I did to keep from falling, which essentially would cement me to the spot, and all because my feet decided they didn’t want to walk right today.

I would love to blame a rock, a pebble, a lift in the asphalt, anything to save my pride. But there was nothing. It was all flat ground, with nary a minute obstacle in sight. My feet just decided to play with me.  “Oh hey, she’s having a pretty good day today, she’s getting cocky with that happy attitude of hers, can’t let that happen. Let’s see what we can do to torment this socially awkward introvert.  I know!  We’ll wait until she’s in the middle of an intersection, in front of loads of people, and then just twist for no reason whatsoever and watch her fall on her face.”

For me, the embarrassment is worse than pain, so I immediately kept walking, which probably wasn’t a good thing, and I ended up having to lean against the building right across the road to catch my breath and say a few choice curse words…the ones my mother hates to hear.

And I tell you all this story to tell you this story:  My faith in humanity is restored at least for today. Tomorrow some schmuck will come along and screw it up. But for today I was thinking that not all people are bad.  For as I lay there against the building muttering my colorful epithets, this lovely individual — a compassionate and kind lady, who no doubt had better things to do and more interesting places to be, stopped to ask me if I was okay.  She saw me misstep and wanted to see if I was hurt and needed help.

Now this may not seem like much to some people, but then you think about the fact that she had a choice; she could have just as easily driven on, like everyone else did safe in the knowledge of their own self-centered tunnel vision that at least that crazy woman didn’t fall down in the road, so she must be fine and after all, they have to be somewhere that’s not here wondering about someone who apparently can’t even walk a straight, flat line. She could’ve slowed down and looked to assure herself that all was well, as perhaps others did (I don’t know, I was distracted by coming up with new sentence combinations that would’ve impressed a well-traveled Sailor). But no. Nothing would do but for her to actually pull over and stop…to reach out to another person, to be compassionate and empathetic, to offer her help and more importantly, her time.

So despite my foot trying to kill me through its sheer lack of competence or desire to be bothered with its job (you had one job!), my day got right back on track due to this nice lady I didn’t even know from Adam.  You just don’t see this type of everyday humanity much anymore. At least not around here. She must be from out-of-town.