What You Need

But the sun's been quite kind while I wrote this  . . . ~ Elton John. Photo by Ev Bishop, copyright 2014


“But the sun’s been quite kind . . .” ~ Elton John. Photo by Ev Bishop, copyright 2014

January can be pretty low 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?
 
Waging war with the gloom, however, I also experienced some intensely lovely moments this month—things that reminded me of all the good in life, and in people, that coexists with the . . . not so good.  
 
The incident with the most impact came totally out of the blue, and occurred, of all places, in the post office.
 
I had just received hard news and treated myself to a London Fog, while I 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 unique poster grabbed my eye right away.
 
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 nice request: “Take what you need.”
 
Beneath the words and the artwork were tear-away 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 tiny font on the poster’s edge gave copyright to Kelly Rae Roberts and I googled her name 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 obvious reason other 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—something I’m in want 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, a little stronger, a little more resilient.
 
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 have 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 going through things you have no idea how to resolve, 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.”