Every day something happens around the world that makes someone, somewhere, stop and reflect on the meaning of that moment. Perhaps it’s a child’s wonder and awe of something we take for granted, or a force of nature that takes our breath away. And while these moments often make us stop and admire the raw simplicity life brings, it’s not as common to witness a true act of generosity that reflects the beauty of a person’s soul.
Last week while my mom-in-law was visiting us for Thanksgiving, we were driving around Austin, and my son noticed a homeless person on the street. He asked why we don’t do more to help them; was it enough to just give them money, or was there more we should do? I was proud of his compassion to recognize a peson in need, and to have the innocence of spirit to realize that they need help, and we have the ability to give it to them. For a brief moment, I wondered where that compassion would take him in life, and then as often happens, we shifted focus to something else and the moment had passed.
Passed, but not forgotten it seemed. I was intrigued by the story about the NYC copy this week who spent his own money to buy a pair of boots for a homeless man he saw on the side of a busy street. I thought, if a hardened NYC cop, who was on counter-terrorism duty no less, could have the compassion to help a stranger, than why are so many of us critical of an act of giving?
This morning we watched on the Today Show as they interviewed both the cop and the woman who snapped his picture of him that’s since gone viral . “It was freezing out and you could see the blisters on the man’s feet,” he said. “I had two pairs of socks and I was still cold.” As the man walked slowly down Seventh Avenue on his heels, Officer DePrimo went into a Skechers shoe store at about 9:30 p.m.
With some help from the store’s employee after sharing what he was doing, the shoes were marked down, and Officer DiPrimo paid for the boots out of his own money. Not a small $1 given to a homeless person on the side of the street; this gift came with a much higher price tag: $75.00
“We were just kind of shocked,” said Jose Cano, 28, a manager working at the store that night. “Most of us are New Yorkers and we just kind of pass by that kind of thing. Especially in this neighborhood.”
Mr. Cano volunteered to give the officer his employee discount to bring down the regular $100 price of the all-weather boots to a little more than $75.
Officer DiParmo has kept the receipt in his vest since then, “to remind me that sometimes people have it worse.”
Having worked in NYC for several years, I know how easy it is to become disillusioned by the sheer amount of people in need. It becomes easy to look away, to ignore the please for help.
I tend to write mostly about food related issues; how to help raise a food allergic child, review allergy-free food products, and share recipes I’ve stumbled my way through in the hopes that it helps all of you going through a similar situation to avoid my mistakes, and live an easier, healthy and happy life.
It’s all very simple actually. I share what I know, offering tips and insights that are meant to help make your life easier. And while I do find it fulfilling to hear how my posts help you along your life journey, it doesn’t compare to the soul-cleansing ‘good’ of a raw act of random kindness like Officer DiParmo showed. True, he simply gave of his own money, but he is a man who was trained to recognize the bad in people so as to protect the citizens of NY. Yet he was able to clearly see a man’s need for help, and didn’t hesitate to offer that. With no hope of recognition or reward for his act of kindness, he simply gave to someone in need.
These are the moments that inspire me; to have compassion for friends and family members who are less than understanding of our health needs. To be patient when faced with a series of judgmental questions and ‘helpful’ tips, or the ever popular suggestion that I should just “take a pill for that”. It reminds me that while my life tends to be wrapped up in food related issues, there’s a bigger meaning to it all, and a reason that my poor health caused me to slow down in life. The idea of stopping to smell the roses was lost on me until my body literally gave out, and I was forced to dramatically slow down. This new, slower pace, finds me noticing things that I once missed, like a fellow person in need. In fact, I find that I can’t ignore them; I know what it’s like to feel like you’re crying out for help, with no one to hear you, or who knows how to help.
It’s funny to think that social media has raised our awareness of a simple act of kindness that changed a life, but it has. And as I write this post today, I’m grateful for the reminder to slow down, and live inspired by the small moments that define humanity. Somehow, life’s meanings tend to come full circle, and if you miss the message the first time around, it tends to keep coming back, often times beating you over the head until you finally listen.
I’m happy to say I’m listening now 🙂