January and February can be low months for me—low energy, low funds, low light, low . . . And this year, a series of tough situations conspired to bring me lower—the rotten kind of events, where people I care about are being kicked in the face by life in ways I’m powerfulness to help in any practical, lasting way. You relate, perhaps?
On the flip side, however, waging war with the gloom, I’ve also experienced some intensely lovely moments this month—things that reminded me of all the good in life—in people—that coexists with the . . . not so good.
The one with the most impact came totally out of the blue, and occurred, of all places, in the post office.
After receiving hard news the other day, I treated myself to a London Fog and wrote a note to my sister as a pick me up. Afterwards, I went to the post office to mail it, then checked out the lobby’s bulletin board. A poster with tear-away tabs grabbed my eye.
It was photocopied in black and white, but no less beautiful for the lack of colour. Funky block letters on a collaged-background made a strange but lovely request: “Take what you need.”
Beneath the words and the artwork were scissor-cut tabs, but they didn’t hold contact numbers. They carried things the creator thought you might need:
Hope. Courage. Forgiveness. Love. Laughter. Peace of mind. Faith. Tenderness. Beauty
Strength. Rest. Passion.
Half the tabs were already missing. (In fact, I only know what each one said because minuscule font on the poster’s edge gave copyright to Kelly Rae Robert and I googled her along with “Take what you need” until I found a copy of the same poster, intact.) I don’t know what I found more encouraging: that someone randomly posted it for no other obvious reason than to put some kindness and inspiration into the world—or that people were moved, like I was, to take something away with them.
I chose “Faith” because it’s something I could use more of in multiple areas of my life right now. Which would you have taken? What do you particularly need?
I left the post office feeling a little lighter and a little stronger, more capable.
And as so often happens, one positive moment opened my eyes to an abundance of other encouraging, buoying things.
I had wonderful coffee visits with friends who simultaneously challenged me and affirmed some of the ideas percolating in my head.
An old acquaintance from the past reconnected via e-mail—triggering good memories and excitement about new inspirations.
A complete stranger offered, uninitiated by me, to advertise the launch of the first novel in a series I’m going to publish and to help with any questions I had along the way.
Someone gave us a beautiful new chicken—her “nicest, kindest” one—because she’d heard our solitary hen was lonely. Funny, but it really moved me.
In a coffee shop, a young woman out for coffee by herself, slipped out to the washroom, leaving her bag and laptop on the counter where she’d been sitting. Some people might say it was stupid or asking for trouble, but I thought it was a good lesson. Sometimes we have to stop thinking of—almost expecting—worst case scenarios. We need to remember that a lot of people are decent. Are trustworthy. Are kind.
If you’re a little—or a lot—low these days, or if you’re experiencing hard things that you have no idea how to resolve, or worried that you or someone you love might not make it through something, I pray you experience some high notes this week—that you, like me, get what you need and find encouragement in some small, unexpected way.
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“What You Need” by me, Ev Bishop, was originally published in the Terrace Standard, January 29, 2014, as my monthly column “Just a Thought.” I’m resharing it here because I was feeling a little blah today, happened to come across it in my files–and found it encouraging. I hope you did too. 🙂