As an antidote to the potentially depressing nature of the previous post, I want to add as a postscript an anecdote about a Chinese man I read about in The New York Times about ten years ago, back in the days when I could still read. (The stories in the Times are supposedly written at the level of a sixth grader–for those of you who aren’t Yankees, that’s sixth grade of elementary school–because hey, we wouldn’t want people to become intellectuals or anything now, would we? Did I tell you the story about the music teacher I had in fifth grade who forced the class to memorize all five stanzas of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the most boring national anthem and possibly the most nugatory song ever written? Don’t get me wrong–I love America as much as any other country I’ve ever lived–heck, it’s my hometown–but when your country has the biggest military force in the history of the human race, it seems unsporting to go around saying yours is the greatest country in the world. Besides, everybody knows it’s Luxembourg.)
The story I’m referring to concerns a good Samaritan who made it his calling to patrol a tall bridge somewhere in China and talk people down from jumping off of it. He’d then take the person out to lunch or treat them to coffee (unless it was tea) and listen to his or her story. Over the years, he ended up saving countless people’s lives, free of charge. For all I know he’s probably still at it.
What a mensch! Anyway, I thought I’d share that one with you, thinking it might brighten your wintry day and boomerang your frown into a smile. Sometimes all it takes is a single kind word from one person who cares to reverse your outlook completely. That’s what I call true love in the unconditional sense, a genuine dose of premium unleaded agape.
I hope I can grow to be unselfish enough to do the same for another person in need. I’ve spent so much I’ve my life focusing on my own petty wants and hungers, I’ve forgotten that the easiest way to make yourself happy is by doing something for someone else.
I know that’s unbelievably selfish of me, and I apologize with a groveling shudder of the jowls. I’m also aware that it’s a cliche and might even come across as claptrap to jaded readers who regard this kind of positive message with a jaundiced eye. All I can say is that I agree with the Beatles (and I forgive my good friend Steve for disliking their music) that:
“With our love, we can save the world.”
“Limitless undying love that shines around me like a million suns, they travel on and on across the universe.”
“Love is all and love is everyone.”
Now that you’ve had your fill of treacle for the day, help yourself to a cup of strong black coffee. That should cheer you up even more.