Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Take a Walk with Me

Some days you just have to surrender and let life show you the magic.

Monday I was feeling blah- woke up with the migraine I'd had the day before. It happens. But I put on my runners and headed out for my brisk morning walk. (I'm a little late to the party on this one, having only recently discovered the profound effect that exercising first thing in the day has on mood and metabolism.)

I stuck a twenty dollar bill in my pocket, thinking I might go pick up a few things for my post-walk smoothy. I was grumpy about needing to do this (I blame the headache) but as I walked I was lifted as I often am by the beauty of my neighbourhood: the spectacular old maples and oaks; the lilacs still blooming; the kids running and laughing on the way to school; an elderly couple walking arm in arm pushing their granddaughter in a stroller. . . .Life! I was listening Bill Withers singing, "Ain't No Sunshine,"  on my earbuds ( as I arrived at the grocery store, now smiling and thinking: I love this city, this life, people.

Now the shift in my mood was magic enough, but then things started to. . . get weirdly wonderfully. An older woman (ie- a woman my age) who was stacking the produce shelves paused to help me find mint. We found one package but she frowned and took it from me, saying, "Wait." She tapped it on her hand and looked closely at the herbs, before announcing, "Okay- they are still alive! Otherwise by tomorrow they'd be no good." I thanked her, touched by her caring.

Of course, by the time I'd gotten to the check out line with my chia seed, mint and bag of kiwis (the things I'd come for) I'd also picked up an avocado and a huge elephant garlic. My total was $22.92 so I told the cashier to take off the garlic and avocado.

But before she could do that, the woman in line behind me said, "I'll pay the difference." Shocked, I turned to her and assured her that she did not need to do that, but she insisted, saying, "I've done it myself- been a little short. It's no problem."

I agreed and thanked her, in part because I was starting to get a little choked up at her spontaneous generosity to a total stranger.

As I walked out of the store, I pulled my sun glasses from my pocket. A young man standing ahead me of waved and pointed saying, "You dropped something." Turning I saw the key card to get into my apartment building on the floor. I picked it up and thanked him, leaving the store more than a little overwhelmed by the courtesy and caring of total strangers.

Smiling as I walked along, I said a prayer of gratitude and muttered, "I get it. Head pain or no, I am not alone, I am connected, I am cared for, I am part of this big messy beautiful family of life. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."

I wandered through the tree lined streets toward home. Suddenly a group of children were moving toward me on the sidewalk, herded by three women quietly urging them forward. They were in pairs holding hands, hats on, all between two and three years old. They made me think of ducklings bumping along, easily distracted, alternately wandering and trying to keep up. As they approached me I stood aside but one little girl stopped abruptly (causing a bit of a gentle pile-up behind her) and thrust her hand up to me. She was holding a bright yellow dandelion. "For you," she said with a big smile.

"Oh," I said startled. She'd caught me so off guard, I didn't know what to do.

She frowned, a line creasing her forehead between startling blue eyes, and then repeated with some fierceness, "It is for you!"

"Ah," I said smiling and taking the flower. "It's beautiful! Thank you."

And I walked into the little park a few steps away and sat down on the grass. It would be fair to say that by this time I was a little undone by the random kindness of the morning. I just sat there my heart aching with fullness.

Some days life breaks your heart with all that is hard: injustice, illness, injury, poverty, violence . . . But there is also courtesy, caring, kindness, generosity, connection, and incredible beauty. I'm not into conspiracy theories, but I think that Monday morning some power, some force- the Great Mystery- conspired to show me the simple healing magic of everyday life,  the beauty that reminds of us of our wholeness every day.

And I am filled with gratitude, carried by grace.

Oriah House (c) 2014


  1. Wonderful :-) Isn't it amazing how such "simple" generous things baffle us? I'm so used to shitty things happening, that I get suspicious if someone is kind to me LOL. Love this post, needed it. Needed a rainbow today, thank you for giving it to me with this. xox

    1. Sabine, well, by the time the 3rd thing had happened I definitely thought something was up! :-)

    2. this was a great read in starting this morning on a positive note. love it! grace it is.

    3. So very nice to hear about the miracles we all manifest. There is no measure when it comes to the magnitude of these miracles.The greatest thing is our mindfullness and acceptance in these and every moment.

      Thank you for the heartfelt smiles...


  2. What an uplifting post! One of my favorites. Simple gestures can make a world of difference.

  3. Oriah,
    I can't tell you how much your articles touch me. I'm reading this as I begin another blah morning at work. And half way across the globe, I'm touched by these random acts of kindness of strangers, towards you. I'm sure many others are as well. Small reminders to each of us, that life is beautiful, that we're not alone. For us to appreciate, and be open to, the small things. And the magic of it - those strangers made your day - and that of many others who are reading this. :)

  4. Thank you for this wonderful, inspiring story. The day after tomorrow, I will leave for a two weeks holiday on my own. I was a bit worried about possible loneliness during the trip, but now I see that there will be lots of people to connect with. :-)

  5. Just thank you. xo

  6. What makes people shun things like this, and run from the good feelings they evoke? Synchronistically the perfect post at the right time for me. Thank you.

    1. I don't know that people do shun these things. I do know that this story received more response on Facebook than any other I have shared. So glad it fit with timing in your life.

  7. I miss you terribly but am glad you past is still here for me to read. Sometimes I feel alone in my bounce from self pity to overwhelming joy and gratitude for one more day on this planet. And then I read you. I cried the day you said that you would not be posting anymore... but you are still here, and I can find you when I need you. Thank You for all of these years, and just being there, where ever you are. Because you are there. Olivia...

    1. Olivia, missing all of the folks I connect with here also- and I didn't say I'd never be back :-) but it does become clear that this is what i needed to do to write a new book. Glad you are finding some sustenance here. Oriah