“I’m going to make a change, for once in my life. It’s going to feel real good I’m going to make a difference, I’m going to make it right…”
We were on our way home from the farmer’s market this morning when we saw him. He was old for lack of a better word, shaky, and inching up a long and sharp hill that snaked around the steep mountain of Hualalai. In one hand, he carried an extra large bag of groceries in a reusable bag the color of deep ocean and in the other he pushed his walker.
My heart went out to him.
It took me back to when my Grandpa was alive, when we’d see him in random places doing what he needed to do so he and my Grandma could survive. Mom would always pull over for him and we’d stay with him until his errands were done.
I couldn’t not say anything.
“Aw, look at that man.” I told my husband, “poor thing.”
He caught my hint, pulled over. “You want to give him a ride?”
“Yes.” I said. I wasn’t sure if he’d accept or if he’d think we were a couple of weirdos. Two weeks ago we (kids included) stopped to offer a distraught, barefooted teenaged girl a ride when we saw her walking in the dark along a blackened highway and she said ‘no.’ I felt like telling her that I was once like her– lost, unwanted, feeling like there was nowhere to go but she was just like me and wouldn’t accept help. ‘No thank you.’ She said right before I called the police to ask them to help her before she got hurt.
But this man didn’t say, ‘no.’ He looked up at us with bright, smiling eyes and said, “yes, please!” As he got settled in, he told us how his car broke down yesterday, how he needed to see his wife, how she was expecting him, how he was so happy we came. “You folks good people. Good hearts, you get.”
We drove up and up and up the hill and listened to the man pant and wheeze.
“It’s right up there,” he said, pointing to another long, snakelike hill which our car climbed easily. We dropped him off, smiling and waving, right in front of an elderly hospice.
As we watched him cross the parking lot, I wished we could’ve done more for him, what we did was so easy, so effortless. We said, “aloha”, whispered a few prayers to keep him well and healthy and safe, and took off.
I’m not trying to get pats on the back with this story, and I’m not trying to act like I’m this nice sunshine of a person who goes out of my way to help everyone in the whole wide world (you know all about that, don’t you, high-maintenance woman in the grocery line behind me who was acting all pushy, looking at your watch like you had to be somewhere, getting all huffy when I put my six things on the conveyer belt because that meant I was in your way because you only had three, and you man at the clothes store who told me the line formed behind you when I got into the right line– I felt bad but I wasn’t going to let you and everyone who followed you in front of me; hey, it’s not my fault you can’t read signs, guys.)
Even though my husband and I live by the ‘do one good thing for someone else everyday’ rule, I don’t openly post good deeds on facebook for people I know (and kind of know) to see on the daily or ever, now that I think about it, but I am sharing today’s adventure right now because I believe that we are all in the position to help people. And if we help those who don’t expect it, if we give each other kindness when it’s needed the most, we really can make the world a better place.
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him… We need not wait to see what others do.”
–Mohandas ‘Mahatma’ Ghandi