When I found “Yoga Girl,” Rachel Brathen on Instagram, I immediately began following her because of her amazing inversion practice.
I continued following her because she’s a truth teller and I love truth tellers.
When she began her Instagram Yoga Challenge I hesitated because, unlike writing, yoga is something I tend to keep relatively private and I was really insecure about the prospect of sharing my practice.
I’m so very glad I did, however, because much like Rachel’s Instagram feed, this challenge has become about so much more than snapping a yoga selfie.
Day four of the challenge hit particularly hard, with the theme of the day being “Random Act of Kindness.” I thought about it all day and finally decided that I’d do the ever-un-original “pay it forward” in a coffee shop, but wasn’t thrilled with that decision.
Knowing I had time to redeem myself in a more creative way, I headed out for a run with my pup, Fable, before tackling this challenge.
As I closed in on the last leg of my run I rounded the corner onto my street and there, head on, I was hit with my very own random act of kindness.
So, the thing is—I’ve been looking for a little bit of hope lately.
When I examine my life in the grand scheme of things I know I don’t really have any complaints. I have a kick-ass day job, a thriving creative life, live in the city of my dreams, have amazing friends and family and a sweet little place to call my own. There’s not a lot missing from my life, and yet the couple of things I want for leave a pronounced hole.
So as I’ve moved through my day to day life recently, I look for little pockets of hope to sustain me.
Today hope showed up in the form of a European gentleman walking his tiny dog on the street I happened to be running with Fable. I slowed as they approached and pulled Fable off to the side, commanding her to sit and shush! as she has a way of greeting fellow dogs noisily that’s not always appreciated by owner or animal. The gentleman and his little dog admired how well-trained Fable was and I thanked him. He asked if she was friendly, I said yes, and he moved in to pet her.
An hour later I finished my run, shaking my head the whole way home in wonder at the encounter that went from casual to life-changing in an hour. I repeated the bullet points of our conversation in hopes that they’d hang out in my head until I got home to write them down.
I said to myself, “Don’t forget about how he asked right away if you were an undercover cop because you were wearing a hat and sunglasses to protect your pasty white skin, and you were ‘clearly strong,’ but not the bad kind of beefcake-strong that makes women look like men.
I said to myself, “Don’t forget that he said you had a beautiful voice and gorgeous teeth (thanks mom!) and how you felt your heart swell at the compliment you knew beyond an ounce of doubt were not come-on’s or creepy.
I said to myself, “Remember how he chided you for parking your car under the train because the pigeons that live up their have a certain chemical in their poop that when baked under the sun on your car can cause the paint to erode and that’s no good, especially when you drive a nice car like he did (Mercedes, he admitted with chagrin) and you say that you drive a five-year old Honda that’s already paid off so you’re not terribly concerned about bird poop and how he threw his head back and laughed a hearty laugh and said, ‘Well park anywhere then, who cares!”
I said to myself, “Remember how you told him, as the conversation turned philosophical that you believe everything happens for a reason even when that reason really sucks and how he paused for a moment, taking it all in and then held out his hand, turned it up to the sky and used his finger to write on his palm as he said ‘Belief, (when you truly believe) plus faith plus patience = love.’ and how stunned you were, how profoundly that hit you and how despite the fact that you’re still not exactly sure what it means you know you were meant to hear it, wanted to hear it, needed to hear it.
I said to myself, “Please remember that at one point, the gorgeous afternoon sun was beating down and you stood there with this gentleman covering more topics than some people discuss in a lifetime when a car drove by, the driver honking her horn in a “hello” to this man and how he lifted his hand to wave and his face broke into a massive grin as he told you that was his neighbor and friend who’d just had a baby and how beautiful she was.
Please remember how you felt your heart swell in gratitude that you live in the most perfect New York neighborhood for you-where your neighbors smile and greet you as you walk by, or better still, stop and talk to you about everything and nothing on the streets of the city that you fell in love with when you were ten. Please remember how you’re living a dream even if it doesn’t look exactly like you once imagined.”
I said to myself as I opened the door to my building and walked inside, “And please don’t ever forget how you wanted to cry when he shook your hand as you parted ways and told you how lovely it was to talk to you. Remember that as you turned to go he looked at you and said without expectation or agenda, ‘It was nice to meet you, Lindsay…you’re something special. I can tell, I can see it in your eyes, you’re really something special.”
And finally, I said to myself as I sat down to write, “Don’t you dare forget that encounter, for that’s enough bankable hope to last a long time. And maybe instead of buying someone a cup of coffee you can offer them the kind of hope and kindness you were handed today.”
So I say this to you, whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever battles and victories have filled your life or you currently face—I can tell, I know—I know you’re something special. You’re really something special.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard