The C-train is pulling to a stop in the station as I validate my ticket in the machine at the top of the stairs. I quickly take the time-stamped ticket from the slot, stuff it into my pocket and start racing down the stairs. I am halfway down as the doors open and then close. I figure I won’t make it and slow to a walk when I see the driver smiling up at me through the plate glass windows of his cubicle. I race down the stairs, smile and wave my ‘thank you’. He opens the doors, I get on and the train, carrying me and all the other passengers, moves on.
“I’m so lucky!” I think.
Later, I am talking with a co-worker about my experience at Shelter from the Storm on Saturday night. I was reminded how much I miss the people in that place, I told them. How much I miss the daily connection with the people for whom we are holding the vision of ending homelessness. (I worked at the shelter for 6 years prior to joining the homeless Foundation where I work now).
I could never work there, my co-worker said. I’d get so immersed in fixing what was wrong, I’d sink under the weight of the task.
What if there’s lots right? I asked.
In 2006, when I started working at the shelter, I started an art program that became the foundation of many art’s based initiatives throughout the shelter. When we first set up the program, I had the participants, all clients at the shelter, create the Rules of Conduct that each person had to sign in order to use the studio. The rules included things such as no food in the studio, leave your personal baggage at the door, find a way to get along with the other artists and honour the space and those who use it.
Every so often, clients would come to the studio upset about something they felt had gone wrong with someone else whose conduct did not measure up to their ideas.
“I’m never coming back to the studio if they are,” and they would name the person whose behaviour they found so objectionable.
And my response would always be, “That is your choice. You get to decide whether or not you come to the studio, or not. You get to decide to work out this situation, or not. If you enjoy coming to the studio, is it worth finding another path to resolve this situation than to walk away?”
Inevitably, they would find another path, or not. It was always their choice.
I was not powerful enough to fix the situation or the relationship with another person or whatever angst they were carrying.
None of us are that powerful.
The power we carry is the one that can make changes in our own lives. Changes that will create different ripples, different paths to living the life we always dreamed of and in the process, empower us to hold doors and spaces open for others.
I raced to catch the C-train yesterday morning. The driver held the train, just for me. I felt lucky.
It wasn’t luck. It was because I met a fellow traveller who believed in his power to hold doors open for others so they could get where they were going smiling and feeling lucky.
What a wonderful gift he gave me!
There would have been another train behind that one and I would have taken it. In his gift though, I was reminded that we all have the power to hold doors and spaces open for one another. In the ripple of our actions, other lives are impacted in ways we never could imagine.
Let’s all hold doors open for one another today! Imagine the miracles we can create for one another!