It Only Takes a Moment
A much cherished day on the bicycle is one void of busy traffic on the motorways; hours spent taking in nature's gifts without the smog and roar of combustion engines. The serenity sank in as we pushed along the gravel path following the meandering le Doubs river in France; mountains bordering both sides of the stream.
A middle aged cyclist approached us from the opposite direction of the cycle path. She stopped about, signaling us that she wanted a word. Her thick tan and calloused hands told she had many days spent on the road. A tell-tale sign of a seasoned traveler. "Bonjour!" (Followed by a question in French). I apologized to her for not speaking French well. She asked if I spoke English. "Yes, English I can do!" "Are you heading towards L'Isle-sur-le-Doubs?" She said, lifting up her sunglasses. Scrambling through the maps, I searched my mind for some familiarity of the village name. Passing a few dozen villages a day, the names start to become a blur. "Yes I think so."
"Just to let you know, there is a barricade blocking the path, she said. "There is a sign posted for cyclists to detour but you can go straight through and avoid adding the extra 10 kilometers to the route." She dropped her shades back onto her sun-abused nose.
"Merci, Au revoir!" (the majority of the French I know) I replied as she set back onto the trail. A few dozen cyclists pass us every day. Usually a friendly "bonjour" is exchanged. There's no doubt we would have taken the detour riddled with traffic and commotion if it wasn't for the passing cyclist. It only took her a minute to stop and enlighten us, yet it meant so much to us. And that's the thing about being kind: It only takes a moment.
Kindness, many times, involves going out of our way, but only for a moment. I can't tell you how many times I passed someone while driving my car who looked like they might need a hand. Even stopping to ask if they are okay shows that as people we do care. That voice in the back of my head is always telling me to stop. One day, back home in Aurora, I saw an elderly woman I recognized walking down the street towards her apartments. As we passed her I told my girlfriend and I recognized her. That was the day I broke the threshold and couldn't take it anymore. Lydia and I had somewhere to be and I was anxious to arrive on time. Then I asked myself a question, "do you not have a minute for this person?" I pulled a U-turn, circled the block and gave her a ride home. Without surprise, we arrived to our appointment on time. It only took a moment. Lydia and I have many conversations peddling down these long, gravel paths. A humming back drop of trickling streams, chirping birds, and the rustling of the wind through the leaves. We talk about where we struggle as well as our strengths. Working out our shortcomings is some of the glue that holds us together. A good person is not someone without any bad. A good person is someone who is willing to look at the bad and become better. Improving ourselves is a lifetime job with no finish line. We all have to start somewhere each day, whatever our situation is, to make life a little better for the person next to us. I really think that is how we improve ourselves - by helping out those around us. Breaking out of the selfish illusion that we can't do good things for others until we are all put together is where our journey begins. No matter what my circumstance, there is always a way to show someone kindness; to offer a little hope and warmth. As we start to give our kindness away, the fragmented pieces of ourselves start to come together. In this world there really is not that much to get, but there certainly is a whole lot to give. [if !supportLineBreakNewLine] [endif]