The Kindness of Strangers

The path is dark and winding with no refuge in sight. As much as I’d like to deny it, my strength is failing me and I don’t want to continue. For all I know I am alone in this stage of the journey. I lay my head to rest and forget that I am afraid. Out of nowhere, a voice reaches out to me and asks me if I need assistance. Another traveler pounds the road and finds it in their heart to stop and check up on me. They have been where I have been, and they want to make sure I can continue, especially since there is a light further ahead.

In my hardest moments, in the midst of my most complex quests, there has always been a stranger that has reached out a hand. Be it the salespeople that found me yet another discount, or the loan officer that fought to get me a better percentage rate, there have been unsung heroes in my life that have contributed to my well being and success. The most important ones where the two ladies that picked my resumé out of the pile back in November of 2004, and then the group of angels that did so again in November of 2015.

My first manager gave me every tool and opportunity to find my own way as a young professional engineer. She encouraged me to explore leadership and mentorship events and projects, looking out for those that looked like the perfect challenge. My leads, both female, stretched my goals as far as they could,  making sure I never had a dull moment. My first dip in the real world was full of female coworkers that built me up and never tore me down. Eleven years later I am grateful for their support and encouragement.

A person cannot expect to be treated fairly because they are good and kind, and it is the many trials and tribulations we face what drive us to form our character. Blessed as I am to be an independent and emotionally intelligent person, I wouldn’t be so if it wasn’t for the cruelty and kindness of strangers. Many lessons were learned harshly and mercilessly, while others were full of shoulders to cry on and excellent company. Everywhere I went someone made sure that I carried a nugget of empowering wisdom with me; from airlane seat mates to nurses in the hospital during my D&C, I was surrounded by earthly guardian angels. Even the demons that chased me through the layoff phase taught me something of value. Strangers got me through the rehire process, and also managed to keep me focused on the future. This made me realize we all matter.

This is the main reason why I make sure to lend a hand to those in need. Why I care so deeply about every person and issue that comes across my life. As an engineer and scientist, I believe every action has an equal and opposite reaction; that every solution has a problem to resolve. It was only when I listened and counseled people that I found true joy, knowing I had helped change a life for the better. It didn’t matter how long I had known this person or situation, I wouldn’t give up unless I had helped a fellow traveler continue on their journey, renewed.

It is not easy to care, let alone contribute to the greater good without expectations, but as altruistic as it may sound, providing others with what they needs isn’t. The fact that I derive a sense of completion and pride from this action makes it a bit more for me than for grace’s sake. Selfish, yes, but totally humbling and necessary. Learning vicariously through others is the only way I can experience life safely and fully. It enables me to have more inputs and data to formulate successful plans, as I already am familiar with possible pitfalls and shortcomings. No need to reinvent the wheel and try it out for myself. Not all mistakes are devoid of great consequences. I’d rather make only those that are utterly necessary and carry a low risk. But that’s just me.

Venture to pay attention to the road and offer to accompany others through the steepest valleys and tallest mountains. Not only will your heart fill with compassion but it will also be full of a more benevolent type of love. This is how I manage to endure in a world that can be cold and treacherous, by loving those around me, treating them with respect and dignity. It is hard to remain naive forever, but there is an innocence that we can preserve by acting more like adults and less like cruel children. There is greatness in all of our endeavors if we venture to try and find it. No deed is too small when sharing yourself with the rest of humanity.

Live long and proper…

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