We have snow once again in our area of Ontario. It has been a weird winter so far. Who would have thought of +17C on Christmas Eve? Now we a winter storm that has graced our countryside. I, for one. like the after effects of a storm; the renewed white on a canvas that was merely shades of grey and grunge. The day of the storm is another matter; that is, if you have any errands or appointments to accomplish. Hunkered down in my house the snow looks magical and refreshing on the landscape. In my car, I take my time knowing there will be another vehicle coming around a corner in a hurry and likely sliding like a dirt track racer. I like to keep my distance from those drivers, glad to keep my car intact with no dents.
Today, I had an appointment to have a pedicure, of all days. So, of course, coming out of the salon, you might know that I was wearing flip flops so I would not damage my newly painted toes. Not a good day for this bit of pampering. As I swept the snow from the car, you guessed it, where does the snow land but on my bare feet. Who said beauty was easy? It made me think of all those pictures of the refugees with no proper footwear in the advancing winter. We do have it very easy here, don’t we? I had a few seconds of freezing temperature on my unshod feet. Many people have little or nothing to protect themselves from the elements. Not only refugees in foreign lands suffer, but we also have homeless people who suffer from the elements in our own cities. How often do we consider their plight?
It is amazing how a simple activity can bring the reality of living into perspective. Our own situation is not always similar to what others experience. We often go through our weeks, busy, preoccupied and unaware of the burdens that others bear. We get annoyed when people do not meet our expectations for service in a store or coffee shop, but how much do we know about their lives, their struggles. Do we even make eye contact or ask how they are really doing, not the obligatory greeting of “Hi, how are you?” and “Fine thanks.” Most of the time it is said without even thinking, not really caring what answer you get.
Perhaps it is time as winter is advancing, the snow is arriving and the cold is setting in, that we make an effort to genuinely ask how our server is doing or make a comment to the store clerk which will brighten their day or ease their load. Can we make a concerted effort to make someone’s day easier or lift their self-esteem a notch for no other reason than you can. If there is a worthwhile New Year’s resolution, perhaps this would be a good one. Can we start a trend?
Let me know what you have done to lift up someone you do not even know. I would be interested in your experiences.
Judith Utman is the author of Voices in the Wilderness.