Not long ago, I wrote about looking for one great thing each day. For me that great thing is often something quirky and out of place that delights me, i.e. an adult male in a Spiderman suit reading a newspaper and sipping a latte outside Starbucks, or a bizarrely decorated car, or a woman dressed like a Star Trek alien looking through the bins at the Goodwill Outlet. These are the kinds of things that have me squealing with delight and clapping my hands with glee like a super-charged two-year old. I try to cloak my reaction from the source of my delight if there is a chance I would hurt their feelings or their finer sensibilities. I am delighted nonetheless. The more I look for the out-of-place the more I find it.
So, even though I haven’t written about my one-great-thing-a-day, I’m still looking for it and finding it every day.
Great things are not always quirky. One of yesterday’s great things was a pile of dog poo. Today, it was a twenty-dollar bill. Yes, that’s right. Today, the trail served me a twenty-dollar bill.
There I am, walking at a brisk pace concentrating on elevating my heart rate when I look down to find the wind depositing a twenty-dollar bill squarely between my feet. Of course I come to a screeching halt and pick up the bill. I look around me for the possible possessor of this bill. The trail is empty. I ponder looking for the owner. Just how would I do that? I shove the bill deep inside my pocket and continue walking.
The people I meet are in a great hurry. No one pauses or asks about any found money. No one seems to be aware of missing anything. The money found me near the intersection on the Expressway. Might it have flown out of someone’s window. Stranger things have happened. (See my quirky list in the opening paragraph.)
I ponder my responsibility to find the owner and double check my pocket to see if the elusive twenty is still snug deep within. Odd how quickly this money became a burden and not pure gift. I waltz with an ethical dilemma and continue to check for the feel of crisp paper in my pocket. I can certainly use this money. I ponder on how to put it to the best use. My thoughts interfere with my gratitude. I create a bigger problem where one doesn’t have to exist.
I acknowledge everyone I meet. If any one asks about finding any money, I will answer truthfully. No one does. Am I really finder keeper?
My thoughts turn toward a familiar story from childhood. An elderly Polish woman in town told of living in Nazi-occupied Poland. Out of food for her children and having no money, she wanders the streets quietly crying with her head down. Suddenly, she bumps into a German soldier, who looks down on her with kindness and asks why she was crying. She tells him her dilemma and he quickly thrusts money into her hands. Stunned, she looks down at the money unable to comprehend what has just happened. This enemy is helping her. Coming to her senses, she looks up to thank the man but he is gone. She looks for him but he has vanished. Finally, she buys the desperately needed food for her family and returns home.
She never forgot this man. Over the years, this woman sometimes wondered if he weren’t some kind of angel disguised as a Nazi-enemy. Maybe, he was just a good man who also happened to be a Nazi. Goodness can flourish where we least expect it. Looking for the good in dark places, in the unexpected, in good’s opposite can be so upsetting I can fail to open my eyes. It’s too great a risk. It requires too much courage. It demands an open mind and heart and I often cling to what I know with a fierce intensity, protecting myself from the very things that might save me. Finding the good or the extraordinary in the ordinary can also be equally challenging. It requires a radical shift in perspective.
I’ve been diligently working to shift my perspective. In a world that often seems to have gone mad, where once secure institutions become monsters and fate seems to conspire against us, it becomes especially important to focus on the positive, on the good, the kind, the unexpected little wind falls as tickets to grace. . .a land inside the mind where hope prevails in spite of the obstacles. I gladly board this train to some where else . It takes me away from despair to a place I’ve only begun to consider in my dreams. This is the world that deposits money at my feet. I struggle to rise to the occasion and to embrace this world with gratitude and an open spirit. Every day is a new opportunity to meet my angel in disguise. Great things are happening.