Long walks and life lessons

IMG_6400Yesterday I traveled from my small town of Altea to Benidorm. I wanted to take a walk, so I headed toward the water and followed along until there was no road to be found. It dead ends in a village called Albir. I am accustomed to this walk, though it was unfamiliar to me in its current, quiet state.

In the summer I would take this particular walk and it would be bustling with activity well into the early hours of the morning. On this night, I walked past a handful of people, each bundled up as if they lived in the nordic regions. When the temperature dips below 50, people who are accustomed to 75 and sunny, take their cold weather gear seriously.

I was out of place. No jacket, no scarf, no mittens… but I was warm and happy as I walked along the shoreline. The sound of the waves crashing against the rock and then trickling back through the stone covering the beaches is a noise I had come to love in previous visits.

I didn’t quite know where I was going to end up going, or where to catch the bus or any of the facts one usually knows when they travel. I simply knew my destination and I knew a general direction, and I had a desire to move after having been a prisoner to an airline seat much of the previous day. I got to the end of the road and whispered, “Jesus, I am not quite sure where to go next.” I heard, turn right and you will see. I didn’t really know if the direction was from Jesus or not, but I decided to follow it. I turned right and went down a few blocks and just as I was crossing the street the bus I was looking to take pulled up at a stop right in front of me.

I hopped on the bus and took it to Benidorm. I have friends who own the best pizza restaurant, I would venture to say, in the world. But they are my friends and I am more than likely biased. I was making my way to surprise them at the shop and to eat dinner.

I got off the bus and circled the place where I knew their restaurant to be, and nothing. They were no where to be found. I circled, went up and down streets, and eventually was able to get wifi to contact them and asked if my directions were incorrect. And, I was the one to be surprised, they are closed for holiday. Proud of myself for getting to the correct location after 2 1/2 years and a little disappointed that I was neither going to eat pizza, nor see my friends, I found a taxi and headed home.

My taxi driver was pleasant. He was around my age, had very little hair, sparkling eyes and had the kindest of smiles.  We sat quiet for a good while, then he asked if I was okay. We started chatting and his kindness won me over. He welcomed my poor Spanish as if I could speak fluently and continued to ask questions and engage me. I am used to being the one in that position, but not today. I was struck by his spirit.

I wondered what the rest of his life looked like. I wanted to make a new friend, and as he passed by and honked and waved after he had dropped me off, I knew I had.

Kindness is powerful. This is my thought for today. It was the kindness of a stranger who welcomed me, engaged me and received me. He had no agenda, but simply did his job, not only to earn a pay check, but to also impact the days of others.

I ended up at Altea Arte, a small Mojito bar just up the stairs and down the street from my home. My friend Sara and her husband own it. They too met me with kindness and she and I talked about the world and how we long for it to be better in so many ways. Our thoughts came back around to one main idea, if each person were to simply be kind to those in their tiny circles of influence, the entire world would be a better place.

I thought of my taxi driver and then on to a talk I had heard on Sunday about vocation and I wondered, if we’ve gotten so lost in the big acts of saving the world that we have lost actual influence in the places we live, work and play. Have we parsed off kindness to a hobby, a particular cause or limit it to a building or certain career? What would change if we saw our every day places and the people we come across each day as the exact places and people with which we are to give away kindness, even when completely unmerited or even wanted?

I am glad I walked, listened, searched and landed in a taxi with my new friend with sparkling eyes and a kind smile. He reminded me of why I’m here and I received his gift and hope to give the same away to others today.

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