A few weeks ago, my Noticer of Life daughter and I did a little back-to-school shopping. She is to the age where she likes her own dressing room. She takes her sweet time trying on outfits and I—the ever-efficient, speedy one—try to take these opportunities to learn from her … to be more like her.
On this particular day, my elderly parents were with us. After waiting patiently for several minutes, I mentioned we should probably wrap up. Much to my surprise, my daughter opened the door fully dressed. My inner taskmaster was quite pleased! I had not rushed her and yet here we are, about to be on our way.
“Oh I almost forgot,” she said. “I need to fold all the clothes I did not want.”
As she carefully spread the shirt across the bench and folded it into a neat little square, I swallowed the urge to say, “Let me do that for you,” or “The salesperson will probably have to refold it anyway.”
Instead I observed, and I breathed.
My daughter did the same folding routine with two shirts and one pair of jeans. Once she was finished, she took a look at the floor to make sure she left nothing behind. Satisfied, she walked out.
Before it could be hastily cleared away and forgotten, I took a picture.
The girl who prefers to stuff her clean clothes into her dresser drawers … the girl who is not above picking up a shirt from off her bedroom floor to wear again … believes in leaving things better than she finds them.
I looked at that tidy, little stack and decided it represented courtesy and love. My next thought was this:
I want to be a folder. I want to be a grocery cart returner. I want to be a door holder. I want to be a complimenter with a warm smile.
I want to be an elevator button pusher who says, “What floor do you need?” I want to be patient waiter-in-line. I want to be a bathroom counter wiper and a trash picker upper. I want to be a “how are you today?” asker.
I want to leave people and places better than the way I found them.
I want to represent courtesy and love.
I want to look back and feel satisfied by the way I am leaving things.
My friends, today I am heading to California for a speaking engagement. I share this dressing room photo today as a reminder to myself – that the person I sit next to on the plane is someone special. He or she has a story, baggage, hopes, and dreams just like me. The person cleaning the airport bathroom does too. And so does the one driving me to my hotel and the one checking me in. The more I see others as real people, the less impatient or worried I am when plans go awry. I want to leave people better than I found them. As added incentive, I carry the words of my older daughter as we watched a 9/11 special on the History channel last night: “Look at the way people are helping each other, Mom.” I want to be a helper too. Join me? Together we can create ripples of kindness, love, and courtesy that are so desperately needed right now. Thank you for being part of The Hands Free Revolution -- letting go of distraction & perfection to grasp what matters most.