So, something magical happened yesterday
Rosa is a girl that my son Noah met in the most extraordinary of ways. This happened several years ago when she was visiting the Bay Area from Berlin and he was a junior at UC Berkeley. They first met when they happened to sit next to each other on a Bart train. They chatted for a span of only two stations; it was a short, passing conversation. When she got off at her stop, both of them assumed they’d never see each other again. But, it was only a few days later that they met at an event in the city. Now, it’s not that unusual that two young people would meet at an event in San Francisco, but this was a small, private event. They laughed. It was incredible! Several days later, on the other side of the bay, they bumped into each other AGAIN — this time at a coffee shop. THREE chance encounters in the span of a only a few days. It could only be fate or synchronicity or something completely magical and meaningful. Even if you don’t believe in such things it’s hard to deny how amazing this is. I’ve lived in the Bay Area all my life, where many of my old friends have also been living for years — and I have NEVER run into them by chance in such a manner.
To make this story even more interesting, it turns out that Rosa was one of those really special kind of human beings. She was a student taking a short leave from her studies to soak up some culture in San Francisco. At that time she was conducting a bit of a social experiment and writing a blog about her experience. Rosa has the biggest heart and an insatiable curiosity about people and their personal stories. She had started a blog called a “Compliment a day” where each day for an entire year, she’d offer a stranger a compliment, and then write about their reaction and a bit about their personal story. My son was Compliment Number 83 — Noah, The Love Man.
Noah brought Rosa to our home for dinner and we all fell in love with her. She eventually went back to Berlin and we keep in touch how people do these days — through email and Facebook.
After this Trump fiasco I had been feeling at a loss as to how I should personally respond to such an event. After some soul searching I decided I would start a 30 Days of Gratitude project and ask a few friends to join me. I had just settled on December 1 — December 30 as the dates.
And then, yesterday, I got an email from Rosa — it was her Christmas gift. It was a Gratitude Advent Calendar — beginning December 1. She had included a personal introduction and 24 beautiful drawings for each of the day’s entries. As I read her email I was full of tingles. This girl — this amazing spirit — was like an angel delivering hope when I had run out of it. It felt magical, it felt like a miracle.
Here is some of what she had written:
2016: The hottest year ever recorded. Trump’s election. Starving kids in Aleppo. 15th anniversary of the Somalian Civil War. Terrorist attacks in Europe. Shootings all over the US. 40 years into the Colombian conflict. Standing Rock. Brexit.
It has been a tough one. Not only in terms of world politics: Just about everyone I know has been experiencing at least one major setback in the last 11 months. Break ups, illness, death, all around me. Darkness on a macro- and on a micro level, and, in some cases, everywhere in between. Over and over, I found myself wondering what to do, asking myself, “Can there be an answer to this?”
Solutions differ. From person to person, from story to story, from country to country. Practical ones can seem light years away. There is no three step recipe for bridging the gap between Trump fans, camp Hillary and the Bernie crowd. The Syrian war won’t be over tomorrow, and no one can undo a suicide and bring back a beloved one.
However when I injured my hip last month and found myself unable to walk I finally went for a challenge I had been putting off for months: 30 days of gratitude.
In the midst of frustration I looked for lovely things and noted them down at night, hoping to regain a sense of beauty. A sweet smile, a ray of sunlight, a tasty lunch. A compliment from a student, a friend’s support. That park I spent all summer in, the warmth of my bathtub. The tomatoes my mom has been growing in her garden, and the touch of a friend’s hand.
Here is a link to her marvelous calendar. (shared with permission)
Albert Einstein once said:
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
So, in this time of the miracle of Christmas, let’s begin to live as though everything is a miracle. The practice of gratitude is the practice of beginning to see the every day as the miraculous.
It may be the only way we can grow out of our current circumstance.
Are you in?