“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” – Tolkien
I inhaled deeply as I zipped up my sweater against the cool, autumn air. I realized that I hadn’t left the house for days, the comforts of my hobbit hole make me forget to go outside, especially when I have a couple days off of work. When my husband, Tyler, had asked me what I was feeling for dinner, I jumped at the opportunity to go for a walk. What I wasn’t prepared for was the series of events that ensued.
Dinner was actually kind of awful because my pupusas, a Salvadoran dish that consists of a meat and cheese filled tortilla, were super fucking salty. I was wicked disappointed and for the first time in my life, I sent the food back! One of the changes I’ve started to implement into my life is to stop being so goddamn polite all the time and to actually tell people what I need. I spend too much time apologizing and accommodating others, and, frankly, I’ve had enough. So, I sent the food back and ate the few morsels of food Tyler had left behind.
Fast forward to our walk home. I don’t know why, the sudden urge to go to the public library hit me like a ton of bricks. Tyler, of course, obliged and we spent about half an hour signing him up for a card and browsing through some of their new releases. As we’re leaving the library, I’m talking to Tyler about wanting to start a book club at the library when a voice rings out.
“Excuse me, do you know how to get to the high school from here?”
I turned to find a timid looking boy in over-sized clothes sitting on the library steps. He couldn’t have been older than 13. For a split second, I didn’t think it was him who spoke.
“Sorry?” I asked, cocking my head to the side. He repeated the question as I assessed if this was some sort of prank or not. “Yeah, of course! So you want to just head down this street and keep going straight. When you get to the traffic lights after the train tracks, you’re going to want to take a left, then your first right after that. It’s a straight shot down that street to the high school.” The look of confusion on his face told me everything I needed to know. If we didn’t personally take him to the high school, I would worry all night.
What if he asked someone else and they offered to help, but with malicious intentions? You really never know in the city. Something about us made him think that we would be willing to help and by God that was what I was going to do. I turned to Tyler and asked if he’d be willing to walk the child to the high school. After figuring out it was about a 20 minute walk, we were on our way.
Jace, the boy from the library stairs, had been waiting for his friend to come and meet him at the library so they could head to the high school and watch the football game together. We just happened to walk by at the exact moment that he decided he wasn’t going to wait anymore. What if I had decided to order in instead of going out for a walk? It honestly blew my mind that a simple choice to go out to dinner led to us walking a random teenager to a football game. Life is just a series of random occurrences. What this event really taught me was that you have to be open to new things. Whether it’s choosing to go for a walk or asking a stranger for directions, we have to do things that are out of the ordinary. The smallest changes could lead to some amazing adventures, but you have to be open to it all.
By being friendly and going out of our way, we taught Jace that the world isn’t always cruel and unforgiving. We taught him that people can be nice, without wanting something in return. At a young age, that’s so important. So, let me challenge you to go for a walk, be open to new things, and get out of your comfort zone. Maybe you find your own child in need during your travels. Treat them with kindness and feel your own life become enriched as a result.