“But…What do you want?” Marc from Florida with the big brown eyes asks again, leaning in with practiced authenticity.
Three days ago, I wrote a blog post about my bicycle getting stolen. The next day Allison Klein from the Washington Post called and asked if she could publish it. Today, Marc from Florida (who happens to be the local NYC CBS affiliate), Katie from Good Morning America, and a very persistent lady from the CBC (in Canada!) all wanted to run stories.
I’m flattered. I’ve got to admit, I thought my 15 seconds of fame would be the disco ball at my tequilla infused funeral pre-party, but hey – I’ll take what I can get. The rest of me can’t help wondering:
Really guys? It was a bicycle and a cardboard sign. Aren’t there more worthy do-gooders and unsolved problems in the world?
Or is that the problem – that the positive stories usually feature epic saviors in foreign places, desensitizing us to the role we all play in making the world a better place?
Or is this what’s right with people? That we are fundamentally moved by small acts of kindness, like a short-circuit in the human brain for joy?
And then there’s a bit of sadness – if we are hard-wired for joy, then why is a hand-painted sign and a knock on a neighbor’s door and the act of giving a stranger $200 so spectacular?
Why doesn’t it happen more?
Mark met me outside P.S. 8 on my lunch break. Today I am a substitute art teacher, and a spot on the nightly news. He keeps pushing:
No really. What do I want?
That is a very good question, Marc.
My ego thoughts are – well, shit, maybe folks should know that I’ve got $9,000 in student loans they could help pay off, and that I love the Strategist and totally want the Baggu bag and the Stan Smith sneakers and even the Peugeot. And I’d really like a job where I get paid to write and meet strange and interesting people every day for approximately $75,000 (because I hear that’s enough). Oh yeah, and I want justice, and I want it now.
But that’s not why I wrote my sign.
I wrote my sign because I want acknowledgement.
There is so little acknowledgement and so much loss these days that it’s disturbing. I routinely turn myself off to others needs because I can’t fix it all. The news is a daily catalogue of losses. We used to have net neutrality, health care, and a working subway system – now we don’t. We used to champion society over militarism – now we don’t. I’m tired of feeling like an emotional rag-doll, tossed between causes extolling me to “care.” I can’t fix it I just know it’s wrong.
I feel powerless.
I used to have a bicycle and now I don’t.
So, Marc from Florida who anchors the New York nightly news, what I really want is not for my hashtag to take off (!?), but for the idea behind it to take off. I want people to acknowledge each other.
I want people to look into each others big, brown eyes.
I want people to do what they can.
I want humanity to breathe a little.
PS – Are you into paying kindness forward? That’s what #realtinytrumpet is all about, making a little noise for good in a very loud world. Share your tiny acts of kindness with me on Instagram or Twitter and let’s keep the inspiration flowing.