Recently I was at the Crossroads Shopping Mall, waiting for an event to start. I noticed a woman waving a broomstick in the air, upside down. I looked above the broom, and saw this cute balloon with a character from the movie Lion King saying Welcome. It must be for someone special for this woman to go to all this effort to get the balloon back down from the ceiling.
The broomstick was not able to catch the balloon's ribbon. She looked around and saw this man, eating his lunch, whom she guessed to have just the right height to help her. She asked for his help, and he gladly left his hot lunch to assist her.
First he tried standing on a chair. That didn't help. Then he pulled a table over and got up on it. It was an easy reach for the balloon ribbon from this height. I felt like applauding to congratulate him, but decided to acknowledge the man with a smile instead.
The man returned to his lunch. An older man, who shared the same lunch table as he, said hello with a smile to the new man of the hour. This simple act of helping someone retrieve a balloon put a smile on observers.
For a few moments, I felt a sense of community in the vicinity of this neighborly act.
I observe that these random acts of kindness occur on a regular basis. For example, last month, an organization that I volunteer for held a Christmas Bazaar. I wanted to make sure there were plenty of business for the vendors who purchased a table, so I sent out an email to ask some people for support.
Within an hour, I received 3 replies. Zita Gustin sent out a post on her Facebook to announce the event. Thach Nguyen and his associate, Stacia Loo, came to the event and helped make the bazaar a success. Leslee Jaquette wrote a blog about the event on Bellevue KOMO Community News.
Another example of how easy it is to build community took place right after a holiday potluck of the International Gathering.
Fara Li and her husband went to Portland for a visit. Julia, whom I introduced to Fara just the day before, asked Fara to pick up something for her in Portland. Because of the connection made just the day before, Fara generously shared her time spent in Portlandthe doing a favor for Julia.
I work with international employees who recently relocated to the area. I ask Leyla Mamina, a member of the International Gathering, to help welcome those who speak Russian so they feel a warm welcome by someone from their home country. Now, several clients have a new friend here because Leyla takes time from her busy schedule as a new mom to call them and invite them to her home.
When Leyla had her first baby shower in the U.S., her friends and several people from the International Gathering celebrated with her. Varduhi, a woman from Armenia who would love to be a grandmother, is looking forward to leisurely walks when Leyla's baby is old enough to be outdoor.
This evening, I was watching "Eat Pray Love" on TV. Remember Wayan, the woman who helped Liz' foot to heal when she got run over while riding her bicycle? When Liz learned of Wayan's story, she emailed her friends in the States. Instead of an expensive birthday party and gifts when she gets back home, would they contribute money instead so Wayan and her daughter can build their own home in Bali?
With her friends' support, Liz showed Wayan a check for $18,000. Now Wayan and her daughter can have their very own house.
What Liz showed with her action is that we can care for others with the same commitment that we show our family. Just because someone is not biologically related does not mean they deserve less of our generosity.
By the way, "Eat Pray Love" is a real story of author Elizabeth Gilbert.
Have you heard of the saying "the more attention we pay to something, the more of that shows up?"
I think in this new year, a good thing to do for ourselves and our community is to look around and pay attention to the good things that people are doing for one another. And that includes what you do for others and yourself!
Estrella Chan works with international professionals who relocate to the Seattle / Eastside area. She helps them quickly increase English fluency, as well as adjusting to life in Seattle. Learn more about her at www.English Around the World.com