Flowers in California

Flowers in California

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Changing a Mood

I went to the gym today wearing a shirt that says "Mood Subject to Change Without Notice" and the best I could hope for was a sudden change in a positive direction.  I wasn't in a good place.

My time on the treadmill was ok and I enjoyed watching a home improvement show while I stomped along to a 30 minute workout.  I suppose things were looking a little better by the time I finished but I still wasn't exactly cheerful and it was still appropriate to be wearing the shirt.  It's only fair that people are warned.

As I left the gym, a woman working at the front desk changed everything for me. She acknowledged that I was leaving and told me to have a great day.  Her words lifted my mood instantly and I told her to have a great day too.  It was all so simple but it really mattered to me.

Perhaps I needed someone to notice my presence.  Her words had nothing in particular to do with me but still they showed that I was at least visible and worthy of a small kindness.  I am very grateful that she said them.

After leaving the gym, I ran into someone whom it is always nice to see and I had some pleasant interactions on a quick trip into the mall.  Everything that has happened since being at the gym has been somewhat affected by those nice words.

We can do little things, bad or good, that make a difference.  We may never know how much of a difference we make.  But it seems to me worthwhile to keep on trying and flinging some good stuff out there.  Maybe someone will catch a little something and pass it on.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Guy Who Lives There

I went for a long walk today.  Early on, I realized I was walking past the house of a man who is alleged to have committed troubling crimes.  The ugly reality of this situation didn't fit with the gentle beauty of the fall day.

The charges against this man are very bad.  He is alleged to have harmed children and at least one woman and I do not excuse him for those things.  And while I don't know that asking him to leave the neighbourhood is right, I do think that he should not live across from a school and playground.  That puts a burden on that institution and all users of the playground.  The seriousness of the situation and the protection of children must not be diminished.

With those things being said, I admit to feeling some compassion for this man.  When I walk by his house, I'm aware that a human being lives there.  It was a beautiful fall day outside for him too.  Did he notice that? Does he like the beauty of the colourful leaves on the ground?  He's still  a person who sleeps and gets up and eats.  Does he engage in any innocent activities that bring him joy?

Given the choice, I doubt that this man would choose for his mind to be one which has led him to his crimes. I don't know if he can change and I don't know how he should be handled.  What I do know is that I remember his humanity even as I abhor his crimes.


Trying Something New

On a Saturday night, 2 weeks ago, I was in a hotel room in Carlsbad California with my family.  The weather was surprisingly unpleasant but still, I will never complain about being in Southern California and near the Pacific Ocean.   It's a pretty good place to be.  The next day's activities were uncertain at that point and, while family vacations have many pleasant elements, there is also an ever-present risk that choices will be made that don't please everybody or perhaps even anybody.  It was important to come up with something good.

My phone decided to enter the conversation and suggested that we might like to go to Balboa Park in San Diego.  I didn't know about Balboa Park and decided to find out some information about it.

The park's website was helpful and we were interested.  Still, though, we couldn't be sure it would be somewhere we'd like to go and while it sounded great, what if it had become rundown or neglected?  There was a story on the news that night about a nighttime walk taking place in it.  Its purpose was to stand up to violence. That wasn't especially reassuring.  But it wasn't even fear that made me hesitate about going.  It was new to us - did we want to try it out?

We did decide to try it out, whatever our reservations, and within a few minutes of arriving within that massive urban park, I knew that we had made the right decision.  It's an amazing place - there are many museums, gardens, an Arts and Crafts house, and a fascinating history behind every attraction. An enthusiastic man at an information center tried to explain it all to us.  It was a lot to take in but soon, brochure in hand, we were able to choose some places to visit.  All three of us were interested in the baseball section of the sports museum and I marveled at the Arts and Crafts Marston House.  As well, just being in and walking around the park was interesting.

In addition to the information we learned at Balboa Park and the enjoyment we had there that day, I take away more from the experience.  I have new pictures in my mind and, more importantly, I have gained an awareness of how important it is to try new things.  There are lots of places to go in and around San Diego and we could have returned to somewhere that we knew.  But we did this that day and I am glad.

I will try to remember this experience the next time I am in an unknown city or situation.  And I will pay close attention from now on to any suggestions my phone makes.  It turns out it has some really good ideas.