thank you for making me a better person

I’d seen this older woman in the grocery store, pushing her cart serpentine-esque, winding up and down the aisles. We dodged one another and I said something like “pardon me” and offered a genuine smile. I might not have remembered any of that except for the fact that in the parking lot we were both wheeling our carts out at the same time, and when I saw that she and I were bringing empty carts to their appropriate spots in parallel, I offered to take hers along with my own. “That’s so very nice of you,” she told me.

It wasn’t, really. I just happened to be going the same way. It was an easy gesture. But then again, how often does someone actually do such a thing?

I believe I’m becoming a more thoughtful, better person since President Trump took office. It isn’t because he models for me the kind of person I should be — quite the opposite. To me he is inconsistent, unclear, and unkind. And as I’ve felt helpless about much of this, it’s spurred on a subtle activism.

I help old ladies with their grocery carts. I have given more money away in recent months. I’ve been more cognizant of the needs of students. I’ve started writing handwritten cards to people I want to thank or just reach out to. I’ve checked in with friends: “How are you doing?” I’ve been rethinking projects, at first thinking they’re completely irrelevant and then deciding that they are the most important thing in the world because they may be all I have left to contribute. I’ve been more intent on news and facts and the intricacies of government and relations. I’ve tried to save myself and spend more time with and focus on family. And, I’ve been slower to anger, more patient with a few others because, after all, they don’t try to take healthcare away from the neediest, they don’t try to decimate protective measures for our planet, and they don’t try to completely destroy government programs which help humanity and our understandings of ourselves and our world. I pet my dog even more frequently, and I even tolerate the cats.

And the least I can do is push the cart of a very nice old woman to the receptacle on the other side of the parking lot. Thanks to President Trump.

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