The frigid November air greets me as I walk out the back door of Cville-ian Brewing Company. The owner and a friend follow. I look toward my parking spot. I do a double take. NO CAR! "My car is gone!" My car has been towed.
The misunderstanding that led to this event was a result of making an assumption about which car was the brewery owner's (which I had only seen once before), and my poor judgement in not double checking with him. I kept my "bad wolf" tendency to be angry and place blame on someone else at bay, knowing this was 100% my fault, and got a ride home from the owner.
Starting line for discovery
Having my car towed might not seem to be much of a story worth sharing in the realm of Small Acts, but it turns out to be an event that led to a series of inspirational realizations for me.
I woke with the realization I was going to have to bike or bus it to get my car. No one was around to give me a ride. The bus sounded cozy, and getting my car back was mission number one for the day, so I headed out for the 11:00ish AM bus. I had to walk a few blocks after getting off the bus and noticed I wasn't in the best part of town. A couple was sitting on their porch, a few pieces of trash littering their yard. I waved and smiled. The woman waved back, and said "hello."
At the chain-link fence, behind which my car was being held hostage, were two young men, eager to know where I had illegally parked my car. We shared stories about our "having been towed" experiences. Later, another couple showed up and wanted to swap stories as well. The towing company guy finally arrived to let us in to pay and retrieve our cars. He was very friendly.
Sharing energy with others
I had accomplished my mission at that point, so the day was mine, and I was in high spirits. I had just payed $150 to get my car back as a result of my own indiscretion, but I was so happy, and the reason was my encounters with those people. The lady that waved back to me from her porch. The other folks that wanted to chat about towed cars. Even the towing company guy himself!
The Small Act of simply interacting with and sharing positive energy with those folks really got my day off to a great start. I decided to take this heading on for the rest of the day. I was out and about shopping for a little while (trying to not be a last minute holiday shopper this year) and encountered many people shopping as well.
Walking down the sidewalk, I smiled at a young woman and she genuinely smiled back. Of course I didn't know her, but my heart soared. That is love. I can't express enough how inspired I was visiting these local shops, talking to the people that worked there, asking questions, and just trying to engage with whoever crossed my path. I didn't even have to say anything. Just making eye contact or giving a smile is enough positive energy to contribute toward something greater than myself, and I can immediately reap the benefits.
How do we want our world to be?
It was Ursula K. Le Guin who said, "Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings," in a recent speech at the National Book Awards. I believe this with my whole heart. We have the power to shape our world the way we want it to be. Acknowledging people, regardless of their faith, race, sexual orientation, or economic status, and sharing a smile, kind word, or even just eye contact takes courage sometimes. It takes intention. It takes will-power and overcoming old habits and beliefs in some cases. These are the stepping stones we need to practice to create a future worth living.
At the end of the day though, I'm not around those people anymore, but I'm still happy. Some of them I will see and talk to again. Others I will not, but they made a positive impact on my day and life. I hope to have done the same for them. I hope by sharing these Small Acts you will be inspired to do the same.