Nothing much surprises me on the streets of Chicago. I cannot walk outside my apartment without confronting a reality that can be really sad and sometimes incredibly uplifting. A week ago, three people were gunned down in a drive-by shooting two blocks from my home. As I crossed the street today, near where the shooting took place and in the midst of a snowstorm, I was surprised to see a man in a t-shirt walking an elderly blind woman across the snow-covered street. Once the good deed was accomplished, the man ran back to his cab that was stopped at a red light. I gave him a thumbs up and a “God Bless You!” which he returned in kind. Witnessing such goodness and kindness right in front of me, was humbling and inspiring. To see a fellow human being act with such compassion immediately elevated my spirits, and made me mindful of the power that our actions have to add to, or take away, another person’s happiness. It affected every encounter that I had with people the rest of the day. It made me determined to spread kindness on the street whenever an opportunity presents itself.
Maybe it’s the Christmas spirit explains the positive experiences that I have been enjoying on the street? A couple nights ago, a homeless man approached me. He was smiling as he advanced towards me, and I anticipated his request for assistance. However, what he said was not what I expected. He asked, “Do you have some spare duct tape? I questioned, “Duct tape?” He said, “Yes, I am trying to put my life back together.” His creativity demanded that I recognize his effort with a small donation and a “Merry Christmas!”
It’s Christmas in Chicago. You can feel it on the street.
- M. J. White, creator of Lean Wellness, and an aspiring street peddler of kindness