All The Small Things
As a chronic melancholic the bad news, fake news, most news in fact, is an exercise in madness. Trump has done this, Brexit that, senseless killing there, Muslim bans here. It all breeds misanthropy. There is tendency in the media to focus on everything negative. There is so little positive news reported. I guess it doesn’t sell as well as sex and death.
Ah yes, another white liberal talking about the world in a state of chaos and disrepair. The bloody media ruining everything *shakes fist angrily*. Refreshing I’m sure. But this isn’t a doom and gloom article. It’s about the everyday, about the little things, and about the kind of stuff that hardly bears mentioning, but it’s important in its own way.
Everyday, and everywhere you look you can find the bad stuff. I mean Jesus Christ, open a newspaper, or turn on the tv. There it is staring out at you. But equally if you step back and look again, you can see the good stuff too. It’s faint sometimes but it’s there. I’m talking those acts of genuine kindness, or shared jokes with strangers. The things that make you feel less alone, that’s importance cannot be overstated in a place like London.
Take today for instance: I tanked a second interview. I’m talking thirty seconds of silence, four minutes of non-sensical gibberish, made up products and profuse apologies for a ‘brain fart’. Tragic right? But then I jump on a train a little later, foul mood, and obviously, at 6pm, it’s packed. Sardines style. My mood grows fouler.
The train doors open at the next stop and a Man jovially says “breathe in!” as he jumps on and even the hardest faced commuter cracks a smile. It’s funny. It’s relevant. Indiscriminate. Instantly, I’m brought out of my somber haze, and I’m back in the moment. It changed the course of my evening. Angry to happy, just like that.
It is a funny thing to think about, that something so small and innocuous can mean so much. He doesn’t even know he did it. But that’s irrelevant, he didn’t do it for a reward, he did it because it made everyone feel more at ease. Sometimes those small things can mean everything. There is a transcendental human quality to them. Like when a man half-tripped walking down the street, I saw him and chuckled (schadenfreude at its best), he saw me and then we both laughed together. Again it was a tiny moment of the day, but now three weeks later I still remember it.
These fleeting moments of human communion can change days. I remember reading an article once, on a suicide. This person had jumped off of the Golden Gate Bridge. In the note they had left, they said “I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I won’t jump.” They died. It’s a tragic story.
That story has always stuck with me. That one smile could have genuinely changed someone’s life. Instead their life ended. Perhaps it’s a little hyperbolic to say that a smile can change a life, or a shared laugh or a joke on a train can fix someone’s problems, but it sure as hell change a day. There is a in a lesson in the tale of the jumper, and one worth cherishing: you can change someone’s life with the smallest act, smile, or gesture. You don’t know everyone’s own private battles. The next person you see walking down the street or stood at the bus stop could be going through hell, and that smile could make them forget that, even just for a moment.
So, amongst all the doom and gloom, find those human moments, the point where all of those horrible things you are bombarded with everyday fades away. Where you can relate to someone, or better yet a group of people, on a fundamental level. It’s a small step towards dissolving the barriers that keeps people apart. We need community now more than ever, we need people willing help those around them, people committed to changing their environment.
So next time you see someone struggling with a buggy and stairs, or are on a packed commuter to train, crack a joke, lend a hand. Throw that busker your change, buy that homeless person a tea. Those gestures can mean the world. Do something that shows people there is still some kindness left in this big bad world.
Let me know what you think @WackJilson93
(Here’s that article on the Golden Gate Bridge: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/komp-laint-dept-a-date-with-death-on-the-golden-gate-bridge)