I’m trying to learn – almost to train myself, really – how to see outward. A bunch of things, I think, have served to make me someone who doesn’t always observe what I should. I’m an only child, and played by myself a lot growing up. Also, I’m a writer, and it makes me kind of dreamy sometimes. I consider myself insightful, peoplewise, but if I were a murder witness, I’m not sure that all my years of considerable Law & Order study would do me any good. What color eyes did the murderer have? Age and weight? Any distinguishing characteristics? First of all, I’m not reporting what I think anyone’s age and weight is, even if it is the police. That’s just not polite. Never do unto others what you’d never want them to do to you.
But I’m finding that Good Deeds just don’t drop at your feet, which is probably my first big lesson on this journey. Eyes front! What’s going on out there? Tonight I found it was 9pm, and I hadn’t done anyone any good yet (unless you consider bookselling a Good Deed, which I do, but that’s for another day).
So I was walking home from my dinner date, and I thought, Take a look around, knucklehead. Stop thinking about laundry and e-mail and your book sales. What’s on the virtual and actual horizon? And I spied one of each.
I knew I was going to my hometown tomorrow for a few days, and that my aunt would be lending me her car. She and I will do some stuff together while I’m there, sure, but maybe I could at least leave a little something behind when I stop by to take her wheels. I dipped into a fancy shop and bought her some nice chocolates – something I know she loves that she never buys for herself. Keep it up, I think.
I stroll by a supermarket. Here’s a small, wiry guy standing outside, a bored employee waiting to unload a truck. He hops up and grabs onto the building scaffolding above his head, and hangs there.
“You can’t chin up on that, I betcha,” I taunt.
“What?! Just watch me!” he shoots back, pulls himself up effortlessly, and then, with a little flourish, dismounts at my feet.
I laugh, and he puts up his hand for a fist bump.
And I realize that within just a couple of minutes, my day has changed. I’ve asked someone to show off his prowess, and prepared a surprise for tomorrow.
Look outside yourself.