The smell of smoke was everywhere. I was in a very good mood, top of the world. Great news will do that. We were heading up Yonge Street and passing an area full of confusion. There were police managing the situation and firemen working the scene. There had been a huge fire there a few days ago and all sorts of investigations are going on regarding the blaze. When it first happened, two firemen had fallen into the building and had been rescued in a dramatic fashion.
Several people had stopped to watch, predictably most were taking pictures on their cell phones - it's always more dramatic to see an image on a tiny phone screen rather than in front of your eyes. One of the fireman noticed me going by in my wheelchair and as I knew I'd caught his eye, I called out, 'You guys do a great job!' He grinned and gave me a big thumbs up. Several people at that point broke into applause and he took a big mock bow. We all laughed.
I thought about that moment a lot since it happened. I'd planned an entirely different blog for today but, as I thought about it, this moment grew in my mind to the point that I couldn't ignore it. What struck me was that all those people watching or taking photographs were probably all thinking 'You guys do a great job!' Their applause showed agreement with the statement. Yet none had spoken. The moment could have passed with everyone thinking something positive and affirming but no one saying it. How sad is that.
It must be admitted, because this sounds like I'm tooting my own horn because I did speak up, that I only did so because I as in an ebullient mood. I was fair to brimming with feeling upbeat and positive about the world. On an ordinary day, or more precisely on 999 days out of 1000, I would have thought but not said.
I wonder, how many nice thoughts about people stop at the thinking? How many compliments die on people's lips. How many encouragements are lost, how much praise dies on the vine? I'm guessing a lot.
We live in a world where negativity freely expresses itself. Where nasty sentiments are tossed without care. Where people mistake aggression for assertion, where vulgarity masks itself as wit. We live in a world where there is more risk in saying 'good job' than 'fXXX off'. Something has gone very wrong.
I wish you could have seen the grin on the fireman's face. I wish you could have seen the lovely smiles on the faces of those who applauded the work of folks who walk on ice to fight a fire. I wish ...
I wish I could consistently have the courage to speak up and be kindly when kind thoughts come to mind.
I wish I could make a habit of kindness and become an addict to expressing appreciation.
Somehow I bet when firefighter guy got home he told a story about his day. What with fires and collapsing buildings, with danger and with risk, he begins the story of his day something like this ... 'there was a big guy in a wheelchair, and you'll never guess ...'
Not only did I have a good day today, I get to be part of a good story too.