The ankle bracelet with multi-colored heart shaped stones, purchased years ago at a street fair in New Orleans, was not expensive, but it held a lot of sentimental value. Still, something I love to have on my foot and wear every day was now gone. The catch has been a problem, but when it came off it had always been found somewhere in the apartment.
This time, though I looked everywhere, I realized that I must’ve lost it in the street while I was walking the dogs. I had to come to terms with the fact that I was not going to find it again this time. This made me sad, but I told myself it was only a thing. Things can be replaced. But of course, some things do have a kind of talisman effect. This was one of them.
And then, this morning, as I was about to enter the little park in front of my building, where I walk my chihuahuas, Lia and Bindy, something shiny on the concrete wall in front of the park caught my eye. Shocked, I reached out for it. I was holding my ankle bracelet. Someone, rather than keep it for themselves, or gift it to another, had left it there, in the hopes that whoever lost it would see it. And I did.
In that moment, something shifted for me. That act of kindness on the part of an unknown stranger melted my cynical heart. It was, I’m not afraid to tell you, a heart, and a spirit, that had been hardened by acts of inhumanity in politics, unfair business practices, lawlessness, crumbling international relations, the plight of the homeless and many other aspects of the world at large that made me want to stay in a small bubble, and shut the world out as much as I could.
Like others, I am prone to magical thinking—thoughts which make no sense in reality. But as I put the returned ankle bracelet back on my foot, I wondered if this was in some measure the park itself paying me back for the fact that I often will pick up dog droppings that other people left behind in my dog poop bags. I do it because, while I so wish that all people, dog owners and dog walkers, would do this themselves, sadly they don’t. I want the park to be inviting for everybody, not only people with dogs, but also for children and elderly. We all deserve to not have to walk into or around piles of dog poop.
By the way, lest you think I’m crazy, this is not something I do as a regular practice but rather, occasionally, especially when I already have a poop bag in my hand.
Sorry if that’s TMI with an unattractive example, and back to what shifted for me. After I had a ridiculous passing thought that the park itself (!) had returned my missing ankle bracelet, it occurred to me that in becoming cynical about people I was not acknowledging the comforting truth that there are so many good people—dare I say good people like myself—who are kind, considerate, generous, loving, and there to help not hurt.
I could go on and on with this theme, but I need to make breakfast and feed my dogs. So let me end with this as my bottom line. I am involved with an extraordinary human potential and business acceleration program called Unblinded Mastery, led by a blind genius and visionary named Sean Callagy. One of the many powerful lessons that Unblinded offers is to “love everyone unconditionally, with boundaries.”
We also learn that all acts fall into one of these two categories: that what people do on the deepest, most intrinsic level, is either an act of love or a cry for help.
Whoever put my ankle bracelet on that wall was demonstrating an act of love. My sharing this story with you is an act of love. My sorrow and fury at what the Hamas terrorists did to my beloved Israel, and my sadness at the toll it is taking on so many who are collateral damage of this war, is where the loving others unconditionally with boundaries comes in, knowing that some actions I harbor were in fact a cry for help, and yet still inexcusable in the way they were carried out. I will continue to believe in the goodness of humanity and the simultaneous existence of evil in some “bad actors” that need to be stopped and punished.
But now, thanks to the small act of love I discovered this morning, it is going to be easier for me to take part in this crazy world, knowing that the fellow New Yorker in this supposedly heartless crime-filled city, who put my ankle bracelet on the wall, is one of many wonderful people out there—here and everywhere.
What are YOUR thoughts about all of this? Care to share?