Yesterday and today, I’ve had the chance to do a couple of small favors for strangers. I won’t go into the details, because that’s not the point of this post–and may even get in the way of it. The point is that, in part maybe spurred by the ongoing reflection that’s part of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I finally got that small favors matter. Oh, I’ve always known this intellectually, of course, but finally I understood. Or, more likely, I’d understood before, had somehow forgotten but kept the intellectual knowledge, and now remembered on a deeper level again.
It’s so easy to get down on ourselves because we’re not, well, actively saving the world as part of our day-to-day lives. In the process, it’s easy to forget that the small kindnesses matter too, deeply, and that the chance to reach out to others is in itself a sort of gift.
It’s easy to forget that much of our purpose in life is to help make the universe a little less sucky for one another.
And the thing is–once you decide to be open again to these small ways of reaching out to other people, once you decide that’s part of the point of life–you become less closed off. Less on guard against those around you, less inwardly tensed and walled up and held in, less fearful, more connected with and open to the world. It’s … a more comfortable way to be.
I hadn’t realized I’d been keeping myself guarded this past year or so, until I stopped doing so.
Now, the challenge for the year ahead becomes holding on to this knowledge, after the moment of grace in which it seems so clear passes.