This afternoon I did a little furniture browsing in downtown San Francisco (pinterest only goes so far, people). While walking through the Union Square area I passed no less than three homeless/panhandling people per block. One such individual was particularly affecting. He was older, likely in his 60's and in a wheelchair, shaking from Parkinsons and breathing with the aid of an oxygen tube and tank. For a few seconds, I couldn't stop staring and started welling up thinking about how this situation came to be for him. I told myself that I would go back and give him some money when I felt more composed, but I got caught up in my silly exploits and forgot.
I need to remember to stop forgetting about others. I've always fantasized about going up to someone asking for change and handing over $100 (or $20 or even $10). One day. But, that's still just one person, one time. The best thing I have to give is my time, especially since that's pretty valuable these days. Volunteering has always been a priority for me since I donned my first candy striper uniform at age 12. I worked in the geriatric ward of the hospital and learned to call my grandmother as often as I could. For the past few years, I have been volunteering as an escort for Planned Parenthood, though I stopped late in my pregnancy as the protesters outside were particularly ugly to me then. Once Mr. Monk arrived, I began to think of my rearing a kind and good man as all the community service I could handle.
Recently, I signed up to start volunteering again, this time with group of children living in a homeless shelter. I worked at this shelter a couple of years ago, organizing play/educational events for the children. As difficult as their situations may be, a kid is a kid. They all just want to make you smile, laugh and buy them candy. I imagine this will be an even more powerful experience now that I am a mother.
Time to spread the happy. And some misguided toy purchases.
Call your grandma.