Helping Out

Today’s post has nothing to do with writing.

Actually, maybe it does. We’ll find out by the end of my rambling.

Today I helped a university student carry a printer to a bus stop. He was clearly having difficulty, and I realized that I couldn’t go about my business shopping with my wife without lending a hand. The part that got me was when he asked me where I was going (on the bus, I assume) and was surprised when I told him I wasn’t going anywhere, and that I had just come over to help before I went into a nearby store.

I’m not sharing this story to toot my own horn. Helping this guy out today reminded me that I don’t do this sort of thing as often as I should, and neither do a lot of people. Our tendency is to only help people when we know the person or it’s somehow in our interest. For example, I’ll help a friend of mine with anything that’s in my power, but I don’t help strangers enough, and I doubt I’m the only one.

We hear a lot about how screwed up the world is. Similarly, a lot of my writing is either inspired by or tends to focus on ways in which the world could be even worse; a friend of mine actually commented once, “You don’t write a lot of happy stories.” For both of these reasons, it’s affirming to know that I can make a small difference in someone’s day. More importantly, I think we all need to remember that, and act on it when we can, so that maybe the person we help out can remember and act on it, too.

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