To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:7
Have a nice day.
On any particular day, those of us who venture out in public are sure to hear these words from someone – often with sincere intentions and other times perhaps not. The phrase has been overused to the point of having its meaning diluted by robotic repetition and/or faux necessity. Nonetheless, it has become the Lincoln penny in our modern currency of kindness.
However many times we hear it, how often do we consider whether we actually have a day or rather make a day? Is our day something that happens around us, beyond our control, that we can only hope will prove benevolent? Is our day something we step into like a room at a carnival funhouse and then wait to see what happens? Or is it a shared reality in which we all take part as creators?
I was deeply influenced on a sunny afternoon some 10 years ago by my friend Steve at a restaurant. As he paid the cashier, he mentioned that he liked her earrings and she lit up like a Christmas tree! Steve said to me as we walked out the door “You can always brighten someone’s day by taking notice of them.” It was like clouds had parted somewhere inside me. Since that day, I make a point to look strangers in the eyes and truly see them as human beings, even if with only my attention.
This attitude arises naturally when I am centered and aware, however I am not always consistent with this behavior, especially while driving. My brain knows how to drive on autopilot while simultaneously processing destination points and times, agendas, what will happen upon my arrival, etc. Does the person who cut me off on the highway really wish me ill, or are they also hurried, preoccupied, and not present to their life? In the past year, I have been striving to practice compassion and awareness while at the wheel.
On one memorable day while driving in Madison, WI I was temporarily free from obsessive thoughts, feeling remarkably aware of the sunshine, the flow of life around me, and the present moment. While sitting at a traffic light, I noticed a woman with a young child waiting to cross at my right. Had I been preoccupied and in a hurry, I might not have noticed her or might have turned the corner quickly before they stepped off the curb. Instead, I paused to let them cross the busy street safely, with the light. The mother multi-tasked a wave of thanks while checking traffic over her shoulder.
As I drove away, I was overcome with the feeling that not only had I done a good deed in that moment, but I had likely created a ripple. Perhaps, I thought, the woman was happy to be safe not only in the intersection, but in her neighborhood. Furthermore, I imagined, maybe she was new to town and possibly seeing that Madison was a good city in which to live in and raise a child. I realized I was creating something much larger than myself – I was enhancing my community while also contributing to this woman’s world, that of her child, and my own. I was creating a nice day, which is much nicer than having one.
Free Lance Author (Spiritual)
Michael Heminger is a free lance writer who is living the second half of his life in Wisconsin, USA. He is an expert in recorded music and holds degrees in Literature and Journalism from Indiana University. His interests include all matters of the mind and spirit, cats, healing, and most recently, recorded music of the 1920s. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org