“A Brooklyn Moment” … a little story from my morning adventure
“…my little universe of Brooklyn, New York is never stingy in offering adventures into the diversity of human experience.”
Before starting work, my mornings usually involve going for coffee, stopping by the post office and a quick visit to the bank or grocery store. Somedays, as I walk through my neighborhood completing my errands, I run across some real delights. I am lucky to live in the most amazing place in the world and my little universe of Brooklyn, New York is never stingy in offering adventures into the diversity of human experience. Today was just one of those days.
I am always amazed at the kindness that you can find in this world when you need it most, when you choose to open your eyes and see. You have often heard me say, “if you smile at the world, the world will smile back at you”. Today, in my “Brooklyn Moment”, I found kindness. It was as though the world was not only smiling, but winking at me.
It started at breakfast at the Iris Cafe…
While enjoying my soy latte and Avocado toast and eggs, a gentleman (who was not my waiter) offered to refill my water after noticing my glass was getting low. Then, when my eyes began to scan the room for my waiter so I could ask for a bottle of Cholula for my eggs — this same man offered to help, got up from his table to retrieve the hot sauce and quickly delivered it to my table. He was kind and so attentive, wanting to make sure that everything I needed to enjoy my little breakfast, I would have. He was the owner (or manager) of the Iris Cafe, but I didn’t catch his name, although I wish I had. I recognized him from seeing him there at the cafe before. Busy doing taxes or working on a bookkeeping or accounting project at a table next to me, he had transformed the 4-topper to a make-shift office there in the cozy Brooklyn Heights cafe. Although he was busy doing his own thing, he still took the time to notice when my water was getting low, or to watch my body language to see if I was enjoying my meal. He cared about his place of business and what I thought about the experience. Perhaps he was short staffed so he was hyper sensitive to help out when needed. Whatever the reason, he was tuned in to my need. There in his place of business, he went out of his way to make sure I was a happy camper. Needless to say, I was impressed. Not just because I was having a good breakfast with great service, but also because his display of genuine human kindness made the difference to me in that moment in time.
As I left the restaurant on this beautiful day, it was hard to return to the office, so I took the long way back via the Brooklyn Bridge Greenway down by the East River. The path takes me all the way up the river walk from Atlantic to Fulton Street where I turn on Columbia Heights to get back to my little abode and work space. The walk along the Greenway offers a stunning view. I NEVER get tired of it. You can feel the pulse and the hum of the city there — the people, nature, industry, business — all in tandem, offer an energy that is so inspiring.
As I am walking along the Greenway by the River, I come along the Picnic Peninsula at Pier 5 and decide to stop for a few minutes to respond to a text from my friend in Greece. Oddly enough, when the following scenario began to happen, he and I were talking about the problems in the world today and how much we wish we could all come together.
As I am sitting at the picnic table under a blue umbrella taking in the view and feeling the sun and sea breeze on my face, I notice a group of Hasidic Jews walking my way. Not just one or two like I have seen before, but this was a GROUP of maybe 20 or more. Aside from their unique clothing, the first thing I noticed as they approached was their interest in a large and very beautiful poodle that a woman was walking. They all stopped together to look at the dog. One of the men was explaining to the others that it was a big dog and they could pet it! They seemed to be genuinely intrigued by the animal, it’s size and golden curly hair, so much so that they pressed in further to touch the dog until after a couple of minutes the woman politely excused herself and walked away. At that point they all headed over in my direction to sit down with me at the long picnic table. It was then that I realized these were special needs men and must have been part of a community group of some kind.
There were several caretakers along with them, each one monitoring and helping the other men eat, unpacking their lunches, making sure they had a good seat and a view of the city. They were ALL dressed in their religious garb as I have seen many times in Brooklyn and Manhattan — some with curls flowing down from their big hats, others with a simple kippot (yarmulke), black coats and shoes, black shirts and pants. It was such an odd sight to see on an early Tuesday morning — yet touching and beautiful. I admit, I was a little intrigued by the scene and rather than cut and run on, I decided to hang out with them and see what was going on and soak up a little bit of that love.
During my time at the picnic table, a ton of thoughts ran through my head (listen to the audio podcast above to hear more details), until they all converged and landed on the awesomeness of DIVERSITY, and yet another opportunity to learn about LOVE. Here were adult professional men (very different from me or the world I come from) who were working with other mentally and physically challenged men — some who could hardly speak or use their fork to eat, some who could barely walk or comprehend where (or who) they were. These were fellow human beings, yet unlike me, they were challenged to do the things that I and my friend take for granted — like ease of thought, speech, or physical movement. By noticing this activity and bearing witness of this GIVING, I was blessed to see another form of LOVE in action.
I had a brief conversation with one of the workers who explained their mission to me of helping these guys live a better life. He actually seemed grateful to me for staying around and talking to him, asking about his work. It was a worthwhile break on many levels.
[I am aware that many of you cannot do what I did this morning — you have a corporate job, or babies at home, your schedule will not allow it, so I share this to make you aware that it is in the NOTICING that we discover these little treasures in our day. Putting away our phones for a time, getting off the computer for a minute, stepping outside, taking a walk where ever you are, noticing the cashier or the coworker — will offer up a million ways that you can discover and BE love in action. You simply must create a habit of looking for the opportunities.]
My take away from the Brooklyn Moment today was this: what a major impact it would make in the world if each of us would focus on providing the service of human kindness to the people in our lives, our work, our family, our community. Let’s become increasingly AWARE. Do NOT shuck our gifts and talents, but use them to BENEFIT others in a greater way for all of humanity. Wouldn’t it be something to see the RESULTS if each of us did that?! It could resolve all our problems. Think about it.
Love and peace…