Musings & Threads. One Hundred Kindnesses.
One Hundred Kindnesses
After enduring almost 40 years of New Jersey winters, I find myself hiding from the cold in Key West, Florida. This morning was a typical Key West morning for me. I awoke at 5 a.m. Always an early riser, sleep is a persistent foe, so any time after 4 a.m. is a win. I left my house around 6 a.m. and headed toward the White Street Pier for the sunrise. I would not be alone. Tourists and residents alike congregate along the long concrete pier to watch the sunrise, nature’s kaleidoscope of pinks, yellows, aquamarine, power blue, teal and azure as the sky and sea exchange colors in the delicate dance of dawn.
I walked past a homeless man scrubbing the granite tiles of the Aids Memorial, I stopped to thank him. He showed me names of his friends etched on the shiny black granite, his conversation meandered and eventually I thanked him again and continued down the pier.
A tanned, florescent yellow-shirted city worker who cleans the beach called out hello, “It is going to be a beautiful day.” We smiled and returned greetings. I lost count of the number of people who wished me a good morning, it was at least 20. I removed my dogs’ leashes and watched them scamper along the pier in the predawn light using their noses to investigate new scents while running for the sheer delight of exercise. Along the pier were a group of sunrise watchers with their dogs, chatting while staring at the ocean. A woman called my name and came over. She hadn’t seen me in a while and wanted to make sure I was okay. My dog jumped up on a tourist, he smiled and pet him.
My destination is the end of the pier, where my husband’s ashes have now settled into the sediment. Other onlookers seemed to sense my need for space and respectfully moved away.
A dog ran up to play with my dog Gus, they were fellow inmates at the SPCA while awaiting adoption. They remembered each other and celebrated their new lives.
As I walked down, I saw someone cleaning up another dog’s poop. She smiled and I handed her a bag, in case she needed another.
As I left the pier, more “good mornings.” Another homeless man waved to me, my dog ran to his familiar friend and they exchanged happy greetings.
A couple of tourists looked lost, someone saw them studying a map and asked them if they needed directions. They were looking for a good place for breakfast, a crowd of helpful residents descended around the map offering suggestions.
Returning home, I crossed the street at a crosswalk, an angry driver in a large pickup almost ran me over, while shouting out an obscenity.
I stop. How will I describe this morning? Will it be the hundreds of kindnesses I experienced or this moment of anger?
I get to choose.