When Is the Last Time...
And presented you...
With a random act of kindness?
Not for profit. Not for hire. Nor for any reason other than...
A need to say I love you.
To surround you with the simple message...
That you are valued.
Worth the time.
Worth the effort.
When was the last time you opened your mailbox, Snail Mail or Internet...and there lying in wait a message that says...
Hi...I thought about you today.
Hello...you matter to me.
Or found a box of your favorite chocolates on your pillow.
A rose on the counter with a post it note smiley face.
An invitation to lunch or for coffee?
A walking partner in the park on a sunny afternoon?
A bowl of popcorn and a movie sitting side by side holding hands?
When was it?
When was the last time a fellow, a friend, a child, a neighbor, a loved one, reached out to you first...
To make you feel as special as you try everyday to make them feel.
Sent you a You Tube Vid or a silly text message with a grinning emoticon...
If you are in the middle of the valley between life’s highs and lows, there is nothing more uplifting than a kindness offered up for free.
No strings attached. No tit for tat. No you help me up then I will help you. No itemized statement. No legal fees. No, the check is in the mail, therefore I will help you.
There is an enormous canyon separating I will try and I did...
Who was the last person in your life to walk the tightrope across the canyon...to flex a muscle...to wield a pen....to wander the aisles in the supermarket to pore over greeting cards to find exactly the right one to make you smile?
Or are you sitting here in the solitude of silence thinking that like the proverbial tree in the forest, if you fall, no one will hear you cry out.
Existence. Is. Real.
We exist...therefore we are...or so they say...but I promise you that when the land is barren and left to rot and ruin...with not a drop to drink or nary a place to lay your head....
Please please remember...
People Move On.
They will seek comfort when there is none.
And if you are nearby, and watch them struggle with their thirst, then you only enable them leaving.
Searching for new horizons...for those who value their worth. And not looking back to where they started...but instead to the future where there will be love and tenderness and that infinitely precious and too frequently hoarded gift ...
Random acts of kindness.
The small and tender acts that let us know...we are here. We do matter and someone knows it to be true.
As it has been said, time after time after time, you never know what you have lost...until it is gone.
It is a wonder of human transcendence.
The ability to focus simply on one footstep after another. Nothing more. To continue to move forward, despite blisters, thirst, solitary nights in the wilderness, and an extremely damaging pair of ill fitting boots.
The terrain so daunting, and yet so stunningly beautiful, that emotions, the quakingly aching of heartbreak, can find no air to breathe, for each and every step requires a singular focus. The time supposedly dedicated to internal inspection, loses out to the need to survive.
An internal combustion engine, she is. Driven only by the desire to move from Here to There, as all other trials to bring comfort have failed.
I watched the movie starring Reese Witherspoon, and it is a faithful representation of what Cheryl wrote. But if you desire to walk alongside Cheryl, as she crosses the Sierra Nevada, and arrives at the Bridge Of the Gods, you must read her book. The narrative is so compelling, so honest and straightforward, that it reminds me of the journeys of the Yard Yetis. The Women Of the Garden seen only in the Wild, but never in the Tame.
I have written often and before, asking the question, where are all the tough broads when we need them?
Cheryl Strayed is a tough broad. Capable of survival skills, but also open to the random acts of kindness, sprinkled generously along the trail. The Pacific Crest Trail. Where solitary travelers, cross paths, and offer each other, a moment of companionship, a word of wisdom, and most importantly, a nod of recognition, for the sheer effort and bravery of a solitary journey.
The truth is, as I read it, gazing up at the stars, imagining I am on my back in a tent with only the night sky and the rustle of unknown critters howling and slithering in the dark, I whisper the word Cheryl used to propel her forward.
No longer running from fear, but moving under the power of her mind and body,
The Yard Yeti Women know this Power. Walk past their fear and accept the random kindness of strangers to power walk their way out of the haze and daze of a muddled life.
You need to know that I have met each and every Yard Yeti. At the beginning and at the end of their journey from Here to There. Resourceful and brave, yet fully aware, of the tiny acts of kindness that kept them steady and straight on the path ahead.
Cheryl Strayed was not a victim. Cheryl strayed onto the PCT not to hide from the world, not to escape into the wilderness, but rather to find a way out, from the hurt and the pain, some self-inflicted, and some merely the chaos that we do not control, and can never escape.
I have a granddaughter.
My prayer for her is as simple and as complicated as Cheryl’s journey. I will buy her a pair of decent boots. I will tell her to lace them up, to buy a map, to be open to the kindness of strangers, and to never ever ever be a victim.
I will encourage her to do the work. To flex her muscles, to stride up and down the hills and valleys of life with a firm determination, that she is the captain of her life. I will tell her to be kind to others, but to develop a thick skin, a tough hide, to deflect the thorns, the barbs, and the catcalls that are sure to come her way.
Women, I will tell her, are capable of a long and sustainable journey.
Women, are not victims.
I will tell her the history of Rosa Parks, of Madame Curie, of Eleanor Roosevelt, of those who have gone before, with courage and bravery. I will tell her of the women who have lost their freedoms, who have no hope of a life better than what they see day after day.
I will tell her that she can and will make a difference, simply by lacing her boots and standing tall.
Knowing her parents, I know that she will wear a back pack. Hike the mountains. Stand atop the peak, stretch her arms wide, secure in her own strength.
Yes, oh yes, I want to give her a Retro Easy Bake Oven, but believe me, I will teach her that once she has mastered the art of cooking for herself, her task is to teach her significant other to do likewise, and to walk beside her, not ahead.
So you, Tough Broads, the ones I know personally, stand up one more time.
Stand up for this new generation, bear witness, and set an example, that random acts of kindness, and personal bravery will always walk hand in hand. Whether on the PCT trail, in the sands of the Middle East, across the ocean or down the street in the cul de sac.