Day 51: City Kindness
“There is no beauty without some strangeness.” – Edgar Allen Poe
“Strangers are just family you have yet to come to know.” – Mitch Albom
“Smile at strangers and you just might change a life.” – Steve Maraboli
Today was a fun, interesting and educational jaunt to the city with the family. (We live in the suburbs of San Francisco and can easily take the train into the city.) On the way to the train station, my son shared how taking the train scares him and that he would rather drive. I asked him why. He explained that it was because of all the strange people. I listened and told him that I understand how he could feel that way. I then advised him to simply smile at everyone and treat it as an adventure.
Once in the city, both kids commented on the unpleasant smells, the homeless people, the street performers and the great amount of garbage on the street. I suggested that rather than concentrating on all the things that make you uncomfortable, try to find the things that are beautiful or interesting, such as the view or the buildings. Again, I encouraged them to see the people, the strangers and even the unpleasant parts as a big and exciting adventure filled with unusual characters.
At one point, as we were walking through the city, both kids became obsessed with the amount of cigarette butts littered on the ground. They even made a game out of it and counted upwards of 200 in a span of 3 blocks. They asked questions about why anyone would smoke and why they would throw it on the ground. This opened up into a conversation about health, addiction, and littering.
Towards the end of the day, we took a cab back to the train station. The driver was initially very abrasive, but as we engaged with him, we ended up having a wonderful conversation about all sorts of interesting subjects ranging from snow skiing to which aquarium was the best in the bay area. By the time we left his cab, his entire energy changed and he was wishing us a beautiful new year.
It was an adventurous day filled with numerous opportunities to show kindness, learn how to be tolerant of differences, and even find the beauty in the strangeness. As a family we got to discuss how to be open and kind to strangers, how to treat the earth, how to treat our bodies by not smoking and of course how to get along with a sibling that you might not always enjoy. What a day! Whether the kids realized it or not, we all got to be kind to ourselves, to others, to strangers and to the earth. It was a perfectly kind day in the city.