Wednesday, July 16, 2008

An Act of Kindness

Life is wrapping up for me over in Santa Cruz right now. I have just one class left before I become a credentialed student (with her masters) and for the first time in 17 (well 18 if you count kindergarten) years I won't officially be a student any more. I'll probably do a separate graduation post, since I haven't shared the pictures from my ceremony last month, but I'm bringing it up today because I've been in a bit of a funk lately, and I think that might be partly to blame. The real world is looming pretty close and while I'm excited I'm also feeling a bit of trepidation.

Since yesterday I've been in an off mood (which I get occasionally) and for some reason couldn't fall asleep until after 2am last night, which made today even more off. On the way to school (over this very dangerous stretch of highway that connects Santa Cruz to the outside world) there was a pretty bad accident and it really hit me in a sad way. Somehow seeing that was just that extra straw that made me feel totally overwhelmed. Driving home I was still really upset about it, which was frustrating because it seemed almost silly to care so much about something that really doesn't tangibly affect me. I didn't know anyone in the accident, there was nothing I could have done personally, accidents happen every day. But it just seemed wrong that people don't always care in any deep way about the hurting of other people that they don't know. I just felt total despair for how these people's lives were probably changed by this accident and yet mine was mostly unaffected. Driving past the crash site on the way back, only bits of glass and plastic remained. People drove past with no knowledge of what had happened here two hours previously. I think it just made me sad that our society can be so isolating- all of us in our cars driving the same stretch of road without knowing (or even caring) about what is going on in the cars around us.

I guess, (in a possibly awkward segue) that that's one of the things that I love (and miss) about ultrarunning. Making a journey, traveling a distance, but connecting with the world around you on the way. You get to know the people you travel with, you care about them and their wellbeing. You get to care in a way that you really can't driving everywhere. And, it's expected, I think, that you will care. If you see an 'accident' a runner down or hurt, it's expected that you stop and check on them, even if you have never spoken before. It's expected that you take time out of your journey, even if its not much, to care for each other.

When I arrived home, I had pulled it together a little, but was still feeling an unplacable feeling of anxiety and sadness. I got online for some mindless browsing, and found, to my happiness and suprise, an ad on craigslist from a woman offering 5 boxes of teaching materials that she wanted to give to a new teacher who might need it more. I sent her a message and just a few minutes later she gave me a call. We talked for a bit about teaching and requirements and general things and it just felt like the perfect gift to reinstill my faith in the connectiveness that is there in our society. Someone, for no extrinsic benefit is, in a sense, caring for me, providing me with supplies that will help my teaching and combatting my anxiety of the coming year.

This surprise has put a smile on my face and deep breaths in my lungs. I can feel relaxed now and the world doesn't seem like such an isolated and scary place anymore.

To all of your who participate in random acts of kindness, thank you for making this world better. Thank you for caring :)


Backofpack said...

What a great story! Random acts are the best.

Steve Stenzel said...

Nice post! I agree with backofpack!!

Journey to a Centum said...


Read this posting from Craig. Turn the page on the accident and focus on the kindness of that great teacher who shared those valuable teaching supplies with you.

The end of your school years is the end of a chapter. Not the end of a great story. Turn the page!

Sarah said...

That is very cool! I'm glad your day turned for the better. : ) There's more good things to come!

Jean said...

That is really nice, Addy. Every once in a while, we are given an unexpected gift that makes such a huge difference. Three cheers for random acts of kindness!

Catherine said...

I've been where you are. You're probably down because you're fighting health issues plus major changes in your life. You witnessed something that no one should have to see and it leaves a bigger impact when you're already emotionally vulnerable. I'm glad it all ended positively. You're the kind of person who bounces back quickly and doesn't stay down for long.

Glad you're enjoying the biking. It opens all kinds of new doors to adventure.

Greg said...

Moving post, Addy. Miss you down here in La-La Land.

rick said...

I'm glad something pulled you out of that, the kindness of another person no less. We all get overwhelmed every now and again, you bounce back better than a lot of people I know. You were thought of out there this past weekend too at TRT. I talked with Ernesto a little bit and we talked about you and your biking. The course is as beautiful as you have described it. Not easy but beautiful.

Bob Gentile said...

wow very very random acts of kindness!

Get ready for an awesome teaching year!