Helping Even When I Don’t Want To
This afternoon I was sitting in the cafe of Malaprops bookstore in downtown Asheville pecking away on the keys to my computer with no thought of anyone around me. At one point, a middle aged man down on his luck sat next to me and started up a conversation. I replied politely and over the course of the next 30 minutes my politeness continued as did my pseudo engagement with him. After a while he mentioned needing some help posting a Craigslist ad in order to find an affordable place to live and thought he would head next door to the library to get some assistance. We parted with a cordial good bye but a few minutes later he returned and asked to see if I could help with the ad. I pulled myself away from my task for the next 15 minutes gave him my full attention helping him create and post the ad.
Sometimes it’s a challenge to live beyond myself and to look up and out instead of down and in
A few weeks ago I was out pounding the pavement on another early morning run. A few miles in I noticed an older woman on her porch and she was evidently distressed. Before I could even survey the scene she called out to me for help. She was in a panic because it was 6:59am and her bus that was suppose to pick her up at 7:00am had not arrived. It was clear that her mental issues led quickly to intense anxiety. In her overly fearful state she needed just one thing for me. “Could you ask me some state capital questions?” I stopped my run and obliged. “North Carolina?”, I asked. “Raleigh, she replied”. “Florida?”. “Tallahassee” she responded. After six or seven perfect answers her mood settled and she told me thank you and that she was now ok. I continued on my run and a few minutes later I saw her bus pass by and she was nestled into what was more than likely her usual seat. All was well in her world it appeared.
I wonder about myself at times. I feel like I’m so inward focused that I miss opportunities for interactions like these. Unless someone specifically reaches out to me I oftentimes don’t open myself up to the kinds of encounters that could really help someone else. It’s usually not an intentional inaction but more of an offshoot of my introverted state. Sometimes it’s a challenge to live beyond myself and to look up and out instead of down and in. I’m glad that I opened myself up to my friend in the cafe and to the woman I crossed path with on the run. It’s just a personal reminder that a little bit of my time and focus can make a big impact in someone’s life.