Having had such a positive response from Madsie’s last post, we hand the blog back to David’s 25 year old daughter to discuss the incredible gifts that life can suddenly spring upon you, and what we can learn from them.
Earlier this year…
…my dad won a prize at his Toastmasters club for a speech he did on helping someone in need. One day, on his usual commute to work, he saw a blind man attempting to cross the road. There were cars flying everywhere and the crossing would have been dangerous even for a sighted person. Seeing his struggle, my dad offered to help the man cross the road. The man thanked my dad and they parted ways, but the following day their timings synchronized and once again, my dad helped the man across the road.
This routine continued for several days and by the end of the week they had formed a bond. When my dad told me this story, I was incredibly moved. I had always preached kindness, but had found myself falling short when I had simply not ‘had the time’. If I was rushing to work, trying to catch a train or late to meet someone, I had been known to turn a blind eye to someone in need. (No pun intended!) Hearing that my dad, on his way to a meeting, conference or day in the office, had continually stopped to help this man, made me re-frame the way I thought of kindness. It is not simply a thing we do when it is convenient to us, it is a way of being.
Last week, I got to put that into practice.
I was on my way home from University and found that the local tube station was closed. There was a severe security alert, and as I approached, police were cordoning off the area and sirens sounded from all around. I had wanted to go to yoga, so decided to get the bus instead and was busy worrying about whether the diversion would stop me from making the class on time. I soon realised that no buses were passing through, and asked a policeman how I could get home. As the incident was so fresh, he couldn’t offer any assistance, so I decided I would try and walk.
There was a blind woman also waiting for advice who happened to be headed in my direction. She asked if she could come with me, and I agreed, although in the back of my mind was the knowledge that she would slow me down. We walked for a while without seeing any buses and thought we would have to go the entire way on foot. Her vision meant that she had to walk carefully and at the rate we were going, I knew that I would definitely miss my class. But with my dad’s story in mind, I set those thoughts aside and embarked upon a conversation with her.
It was incredible how much we had in common!
She grew up in Vancouver, where my parents are from. We both have a love of art; my great grandmother was an artist, and following in her footsteps, I love to paint. And this woman was in London exhibiting rugs that she weaves by hand. She has 10% vision and a mini microscope which means she is able to weave and dye her designs by hand. She even used to teach art in primary schools! When I told her about my link to education, she said she would send some resources on teaching art in primary school to me. I ended up helping her run some errands and helping her on the tube home. In return she bought me some fresh asparagus, but the mark she left on me was far greater than anything of monetary value.
Having spent a few hours with this woman, I noticed what a remarkable person she was. She had such faith in humanity, commenting on how many amazing people she had met in her life. The fact that her vision was so compromised and yet she still travelled down to London from the North of England to hold an exhibition of her work, showed me that with the right perspective, anything is possible.
So, life gave me a huge gift last week.
I met someone who inspired me, who showed me that kindness always pays off and who taught me to trust in humanity that little bit more.
Since my dad gave you a challenge last time, I too leave one with you. Look up more. Engage in conversations. Do not be closed to strangers, provided you are in a safe environment. Get your nose out of your book, take your earphones out and experience the world. You’ll never know what delights it may have to offer.