Extraordinary in the ordinary

An act of selflessness can be a joy forever

I couldn't imagine that such a small act could make her so delighted. A photograph that caught my eye at an exhibition in Palais Royal, Paris. It beautifully captures compassion.
Published at Hindustan Times.

It was the morning of 2nd Jan. I was walking to office on my regular route, when I heard someone call out “Excuse me!”

I turned back and saw a spectacled lady, maybe in mid-sixties, white hair, kind face. She was struggling with her phone. I walked towards her. “Can you please help me? You are a youngster so you would know……”, she said, and went on to explain a technical issue with the whatsapp settings on her phone. The issue was fairly simple to solve, which I did quickly, and gave the phone back to her. She looked at the device, and her face lit up! Relieved and very happy, she patted my cheek gently and said, “Thank you so much child, god bless you.”

I couldn’t imagine that such a small act could make her so delighted. Cheerfully I responded, “Most welcome aunty, happy new year,” waived goodbye, and walked on.

While at work, even an hour later, I found myself bursting with energy and positivity. I knew that this little morning anecdote had a role to play in my exuberance.

Three things had happened in those few minutes of my day.

One, in the middle of my thoughts on the immediate deliverables at work, the blaring horns of auto rickshaws passing by, and the occasional shade of trees, I had an opportunity to help. I embraced that and went with the flow. The result was that in the frenzy of the rush hour, I found a genuine moment of happiness – from within. Frenzy is temporary. It comes and goes. It might seem very important at that moment, but it never is. In contrast, a selfless act, however tiny it may be, gives lasting happiness like no other. It’s powerful. It’s fulfilling.

Two, because the lady was in her sixties and I was half her age, she referred to me as a ‘youngster.’ Now a 10-year old child will perceive me as a much older person. I too could look at myself in two ways – as someone who is moving towards hitting 40 or as someone who crossed 20s not so long back. So, age is quite contextual. It is a subjective statistic and not a ‘static’ determinant of the how, what and why of our decisions in life.

Wouldn’t it be much more meaningful to base our thoughts and actions on how strong or light or inspired we feel, physically and mentally? All of us have a sense about our own well-being, our strengths and limitations. Our body is constantly giving us signals. Our mind is talking to us. All we need to do is to become more receptive to our own voice.

And three, I received the blessing of an elder. There are few things in life that are as pure and generous as the good wishes of elders.

Having started 2019 on such a positive note, I feel happy and thankful. It’s similar to how I feel when I see a large butterfly, slowly opening and closing its wings, resting lightly atop a fresh leaf.

Every day ahead will throw opportunities at you to be helpful, to show compassion, to be empathetic. To do that, you don’t have to wait for special days or significant occasions or life-changing moments. You don’t even have to look for organized activities.

These opportunities are around you, right in front of your eyes, waiting to translate into actions in a variety of small and simple ways.

So go ahead and bring a smile on someone’s face. This new year, do good ‘on the go!’

This article was published at Hindustan Times.

A sip of filter coffee
When travel took me ‘home’

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