All gestures great and small


Who could fail to be impressed by the $10 billion donation made by Bill and Melinda Gates to fund the development of vaccines for AIDS, TB, pneumonia, and other illnesses? Even for someone as wealthy as the Gates, that is an inspiring act of charity and compassion.

You know what inspires me even more?

  • The person who bends over to pick up the umbrella dropped by a frail, elderly woman in the supermarket, handing it to her with a smile that fairly well beamed, “I’d be happy to pick it up again 100 more times.”
  • The person who overhears an offhand remark about some item a coworker needs, leaves the office to obtain the item, and places it on the coworker’s desk without a word and, seemingly, without a second thought as to whether anyone would know what she did or whether she would ever be thanked for it.
  • The person who sits at an empty table in the lunch room, rather than at the last open seat at another table, so that the next person to arrive would not have to sit alone.
  • The person who risks the wrathful horns of the line cars behind her in order to allow pedestrians to cross the street.
  • The man in the business suit who stops to help the stranded driver change a flat tire.

I don’t have any links to offer that lead to CNN coverage of those everyday acts of love. Look around and see them for yourself, taking place right before your eyes, “live on the scene,” so to speak.

This morning in yoga class, I unrolled my mat next to the pole in the middle of the studio. I’ve never seen the 8 am Sunday class so packed, and was grateful for it. The more people following this practice I so love, the happier I am.

Fifteen minutes into the class, though, after repeatedly hitting the pole with my hand, then contorting to avoid hitting said pole at the beginning and end of each sun salutation, my focus was shredding and I momentarily considered rolling up my mat and leaving. Mirijana is one of my favorite yoga teachers (at Club Fit or anywhere else), in no small part because of her gentle attentions and kindnesses as she wanders the studio. (Maybe it’s just me, but I tingle when, deep in a pose, I hear my yoga teacher softly say, “Beautiful.”)

Mirijana quickly noticed my distress and suddenly a fellow practitioner in front of me was offering to switch places. Gratitude welled up at her gesture, and continues to warm my heart and lump my throat at this very moment. I’m unsure of her name (Sue, maybe?), am certain that she does not know mine, and therefore am all the more touched. It was evident after class, as I thanked her repeatedly, that her offer of her uncluttered patch of hardwood in exchange for my metal pole was made without hesitation. I have no doubt that she would have done the same for anyone, perhaps completely unaware of just how loving and compassionate she was being.

Five minutes after changing places, I was in triangle pose, my focus returning, big smile spreading across my face. I can’t imagine I smiled any bigger when I heard about the Gates’ big donation.


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