Today on the way home from my office, I watched a little family of young ducks waddle across a busy road. The poor things barely made it out of my lane and into the next when an SUV came barreling toward them. I honked my horn good and long and the driver put on her brakes just in time for the creatures to look up, befuddled, at the nose of the vehicles. Before I could think of what could be done to help these little ones safely across the street, two walkers who had seen the whole event unfold, rushed into the center of traffic from the sidewalk, waving their arms to stop oncoming cars and shooed the babies onto a nearby construction site (and at least temporarily out of harm’s way). Tragedy averted!
I must have been feeling tender because I felt my eyes tear up. Life is so fragile, I thought. And how wonderful that I live in a world where beings care about one another–care enough to stop traffic and usher ducks across the road.
This was the second time in only a few days that I’ve come in contact with the tender side of humanity. On Saturday, while in the first couple of miles of the Anacortes Art Dash Half Marathon, I turned to see another runner down on the ground. When I looked more carefully, I could see that he wasn’t moving, and he had a goose egg the size of a golf ball on his forehead. Ten racers stopped in their tracks to help him. One woman took his pulse; someone else called 911 to get an aid car; a local fellow hailed a passing bicycle officer by name; I held the man’s head up and offered him water. In fairly short order, he came to consciousness and told us his name. And then the sirens of the aid car heralded their arrival.
Eventually, I trusted he was in good hands and ran on… changed. How horrible to fall so hard during a race, but how wonderful that so many people prioritized sympathy and human kindness in that split second.
There’s a lot of bad news in the world on any given day. And because the work I do is to hold conversations about people’s trauma and pain, it’s easy for me to focus on the hurt that living inflicts on most of us at some point or another. Sometimes you have to look carefully to see the gift we can be to one another and to the world, but it’s worth looking for. Don’t you think?