Sometimes life offers us what we need in any given moment and sometimes we are what life offers to another in need.
When a friend, neighbour, or loved one is going through something tough, we can choose to reach out, offer our support, reassurance, or a gesture, to remind them that they are being thought of, cared for, and are worthy. I’ve posted a card through someone’s door with a note when they were finding life challenging, delivered smoothies and soup to a friend when they felt under the weather, and taken flowers to a kind soul going through a difficult time.
These are choices that I have made to consciously do something for someone else, and I’ve been the recipient of such thoughtfulness and generosity too. I’ve been sent homemade chocolate energy treats when I was neglecting my own self-care, received wine on my doorstep when I was struggling with emotional and financial worries, and welcomed help caring for my children when I myself was unwell.
We’ve all had these sorts of experiences, and they can lift our spirits, enhance our lives, and ease our minds.
Some days, though, it can be little things that we are presented with that make a difference to our mood, emotions, energy levels, and general feeling for the day—something as simple as seeing an article on Elephant Journal pop up on our newsfeed, or a meme on social media.
Last week I received a text message from an unknown number. It was quickly followed by an apology, stating that it was sent in error. I could have ignored it, deleted it, and continued with my day, but the message read:
“Anxiety and stress levels are doing overtime.”
So, I replied, and after a couple more messages, I received a, “Thanks x.” I felt a sense of peace knowing that I might have just made their day a little better, if only for that moment.
I’m someone who naturally seeks to offer my help when I can, and who greatly appreciates it being offered to me when I need it. What I’m not used to, is life taking me out of my way to be of help to a complete stranger, but that is exactly what happened to me at the weekend.
From the second that I opened my eyes as the alarm on my phone told me to get up, the day did not go as I had intended, planned, or hoped it would. The leisurely morning I’d looked forward to turned into a rushed shower and quick breakfast, before setting off on the three and a half hour journey to meet my mum for lunch.
I hadn’t been on the motorway long when the information boards lit up with a notification that there had been an accident and the road ahead was closed. I could leave at the next junction, or join a queue to the junction after that where all traffic was being diverted. I exited with no idea where I was, or where to go, and whilst looking for a safe place to pull in and park, to look on the map on my phone, I called my mum. Thankfully she was able to locate where I was on a map and find a route for me to head across country.
I was pleased to be moving and heading in almost the right direction, with what then looked like only a minor delay using the new route (according to my sat nav). Thinking that I was quite enjoying my little adventure, I then joined fairly heavy traffic on a dual carriageway.
One minute I’m driving along, observing vehicles, trees, countryside, and derelict buildings at the side of the road, the next, a car that had been two cars in front of me was spinning in a full circle and disappearing into the undergrowth at the side of the road.
My heart leapt into my mouth, or stopped momentarily, or both. I glanced in my mirrors, indicated, and pulled over, all in a split-second—it was instinctive. My heart was pounding so hard that I almost forgot to breathe.
The woman who had been travelling in the car in front was faster than I was, and reached the now stationary vehicle before me—just as the driver got out of his car. As my eyes met those of the lady who had witnessed this, we shared a moment of relief and gratitude that this man was physically unharmed.
The gentleman, in his 70s, looked in shock, physically shaking, and seemed withdrawn, and stunned by what had just happened. Thankfully, the couple from the car in front and I were able to ensure he was safe, and make the necessary arrangements with his insurance company to get his car recovered. Using the what3words app, they were able to establish our exact location. It was going to be 90 minutes to two hours before the recovery agent would be there to collect the key for his car, and then they would arrange for a taxi to take him home after that.
He lived approximately a three-hour drive away in a town that I would be driving past to return to my house. The coincidence struck me—what are the odds of that? It suddenly felt like I had been placed exactly where I was needed in this moment.
To take him to his door would add perhaps 10 minutes onto my journey, and yes, we would have to wait until the recovery agent had collected his car key, so I would miss out on lunch with my mum, but for whatever reason, life had brought me to this place, and presented me with this situation—this opportunity to help a fellow human being.
So, I took the gentleman to a nearby cafe where we could have a cup of tea whilst we waited for the recovery agent, then we set off back toward home. I was pleased to see the symptoms of shock gradually easing during our journey, as I enjoyed getting acquainted with my new travel companion.
Whether life unceremoniously presents us with opportunities to help others, or we actively seek them out, we can be grateful for those chances, and feel reassured by the knowledge that when we need help, someone will be there for us too.