The city of Toronto has become a better place in the last couple of weeks. Either that, Or something’s happened inside my brain which has made me hyper-aware of all the magical interactions I’ve been witness to over these last few days. Is it the knowledge that we’re entering a season of renewal and rebirth? Possibly. Whatever the motivation is, I’ve noticed complete strangers reaching out to those around them to spread kindness and joy via random acts of kindness, and it’s inspired me to do the same.
I had just arrived at Kipling subway station via taxi, and had been dropped off at the automatic entrance, used by people with Metropasses or tokens, as the entrance was totally staff-free. I got inside, and went to retrieve my metropass from my pocket. Not there. I checked my wallet. Also not there. Then I checked the inside of my bag to no avail. Crap. I had a $10 bill and no change to get through the turnstyles, and was left feeling like a total moron, remembering my Metropass was in the pocket of my lighter jacket, which I had worn the day before (oh, the perils of having an obsession with vividly coloured wool peacoats).
“Hey, come on in.”
I turned around, and saw a TTC employee holding open the door to the employee entrance. He saw me searching from inside the station, and figured that I likely was a pass holder, and permitted me in without any questions, but with a big kind smile. As simple of a gesture as it was, it really made my day. He smiled patiently as I explained my pass situation, and interrupted me once to say “We all have these days. Just do something nice for someone today, okay?”
The very next day, the snowstorm hit. Yeah, you remember the snowstorm. The one which has left massive dumpings of snow on every surface of the GTA. Well, it hit. And the glorious thing about Kensington Market is that it truly is its own little world, in the sense that Its a self-contained, almost self-reliant little community in the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto. The downside to being a little capsuled community, is that it’s the last to get plowed during bad weather. So, I’m sure you can imagine what our little two-lane street looked like that night. The bar across from my store is renovating, and a pickup truck that was transporting garbage had careened into a ditch. The guys were all heave-ho-ing outside, but as the snow came down in sheets and the wheels whirled without the truck moving, all four guys were getting a bit frustrated. I threw on my coat and went to help, but moments later, it seemed as though half of Kensington Market had shut down their stores for a moment to come out and help these guys free their truck. People poured over with rock salt, rope, shovels, sand, chain, and another truck in efforts to free the truck (turns out, the shovel and rock salt were actually what got it free) and worked together on this impromptu project in the driving snow to get the job done. I love my little neighborhood here in the Market, it truly is filled with amazing people.
Later in the week, I was stopping by Tim Horton’s before work to pick up breakfast, and noticed a woman begging on the street corner. What surprised me though, was that she was not begging for money. Her sign had “unwanted mittens and socks needed, please help”. I was almost brought to tears knowing that this woman’s request was something which we take for granted every day, and as I marched into the Timmie’s with my warm knee-length coat and knee-high boots, I could only imagine how cold she was in her cotton pants and running shoes. I brought out an extra bagel and a large coffee with me, and gave it to her. The next day I brought with me a pair of (expensive but largely unworn) winter snow boots, two old hoodies, a pair of nylon ski pants (who am I kidding, I’m never going skiing again, not after the bunny hill incident) and a pair of fleece mittens.
She wasn’t at the corner.
I left the bag there, hoping that it would find its way to someone like her, someone who would find the items inside and get use out of them. I’ve got to say, I was a little sad that I wasn’t able to ensure they went to her, but I trusted the universe to bring them to someone who was truly in need. A week went by, and on this past Tuesday morning, I was walking back towards the same Tim Horton’s I visit daily, but this time noticed the very same woman walking in the opposite direction, wearing the grey-and-pink plaid boots and the nylon ski pants.
I’m going to ask something of every single person reading this right now. I ask that you reach out into your community and offer a gesture of kindness to someone who’s not expecting it. That doesn’t mean, treat your best friend to lunch, it means to offer whatever you have (ability, skills, access, a warm meal, whatever you can) to someone who probably isn’t expecting assistance. It’s so easy to forget how fortunate we are among others, even in our own city, who’s lives could be brightened brilliantly by a simple action. Whether you believe in God, Gods, Karma, energy, luck, I believe that what you put out into the world comes back to you, and at the base of every faith or belief comes the emphasis on kindness and sharing. I believe in putting awesome energy into the world and into my community, and I am committed to making my interactions great ones, ones that brighten people’s days and leave them in a slightly happier state of mind then they were before. I hope to hear great stories about the things you’ve seen and done and contributed to by next Friday, and invite you to keep on sharing your stories with me and allowing this movement of kindness to spread among our friends and families and communities until it completely takes over our world. Happy Friday, friends, and have an amazing weekend!