A Rolling Blue Ocean
The rain of the past few days had only recently stopped and a slight rise in temperature conspired with a December wind to create a mist that rose from the streets like wood smoke. I was making my way back home from the market, the passenger seat of my wee little Fiat overflowing with oranges, flowers and pecans, and a ever-growing number of tasks jostling for priority in my mind, when I saw them up ahead, darting in and out of heavy traffic. Two dogs, a large Goldendoodle and a diminutive Dachshund in a bright green winter coat, their furry faces wearing tell-tale expressions of glee and fear, those warring emotions common to the recently escaped beloved pet. My heart froze to ice as I saw them narrowly scrape past disaster as a large sedan blew by. I slammed on my brakes in the middle of the street and threw open my passenger door even as I knew there was no room inside for these two, my mind racing with fear. Suddenly, all around me, on both sides of the busy street, cars began stopping. A red pickup truck, a sleek BMW. A mother and daughter jumped out of a large SUV; a grey-suited elderly man climbed out of a Cadillac. The dogs had now bounded all the way across the street and were apparently reveling in this wild new game with so many eager participants. The elderly man finally proved to have the touch, as the big dog, his little green-coated friend following, came closer and closer to him. They were going to be fine! Both were sporting bright red collars which no doubt had the needed information on their tags to get these two back home safely. Exhaling, finally breathing, I started up my car and went on my way.
And that’s when it happened. I began to cry. Fat wet tears that couldn’t be explained or stopped. They fell behind my large sunglasses and splattered onto my coat as I tried to figure out where they were coming from. It didn’t take much thought to work it out.
There is much meanness in the world today, it is impossible to ignore. Every week it seems, we are hit with this reality like a cold slap in the face. The words of the paper tigers and straw men currently cast in the sideshow of a presidential campaign only seem to bolster the worst of human nature and only increase my feelings of impotence in the face of such bleakness. My efforts to brighten the corner in which I live, my devotion to creating a more beautiful, kinder world around me, all can seem as bootless and lame as mice before lions and the cliffs of despair can beckon my soul towards the edge. But as I sat in my little car on that busy afternoon, heart thumping in fear for the fate of those two dogs, other like-minded people began to appear, in droves. Each car that stopped surrounded me like a cavalry of support and each person that got out to help was a balm of affirmation to my bruised heart of the goodness of those all around me. I was not alone. We are not all - as the news would have us believe - hateful, ignorant beasts. Nor are we all without compassion, devoid of empathy, or bent on revenge. There are good people all around me, people who have my back when I feel incapable or low, people whose ideas burn bright when my own are feeble and inadequate, people who reach out their hand to pull me up. The tears that tumbled down my cheeks were manifestations of gratitude called forth from a beleaguered heart; they told me how much I had been holding inside, and they continued to fall all the way home.
More than any other time of year, good will is bubbling near the surface just now, often spilling over into a special joy as unexpected as it is welcome. Especially now, I wish you all the same realization that was presented to me like a gift. We are not alone in our wish for a better world. Perhaps we cannot do it all, but each tiny little offering of mercy and beauty that we hold out to the world can flow downstream with the kindness of others till it becomes a rolling blue ocean of good. I do believe that, and I’m grateful for the reminder.
Goodness is achieved not in a vacuum,
but in the company of other men,
attended by love.
A special thank you to all the many sweet people who came to my Atlanta book signing for Edward Speaks At Midnight on Sunday. I am humbled by your love for this Christmas book and thrilled to know it will be a small part of your celebrations this year, and for years to come.
If you want a copy under your tree, order soon!
Much love and thanks to you all.