Kindness as Purpose

The past month I have been travelling in America, visiting family members and friends.  But also during the journey I explored New Orleans.  It was the first time me or my mother went to New Orleans, and we wanted to experience Halloween there together.  Viola!  We did. 

It’s definitely a city of contradictions, and I think I will need some time process the experience there.  The resilience, mixed with poverty, history, tragedy, joy, celebration, and traditions.  There’s a lot to unpack in this one city.

But one thing I found fascinating was the kindness I experienced there.  Regardless if the person we were interacting with was a taxi driver, store shop attendant, tour guide, waiter, or an African drum circle drummer- there was pure kindness.  Nobody asked you about your profession.  Some people opened up with ease and told their life stories.  After doing so, they encouraged us to experience the best their city had to offer.  I appreciated that.  I gave out many of these Puzo Bella kindness cards, perhaps you received one (if you are reading this).  I wanted to return any kind of warmth and gratitude back to them. 

  I couldn’t help but wonder, what if our perspective of purpose was all wrong.  What if our purpose here on Earth was to simply be kind to others?  This is all.   It impacts others’ lives, it’s positively contagious, and others’ lives are momentarily lifted.  Life doesn’t have to be so complicated with the questions of “what should I do with my life?” or “how can I leave my mark on the world?”  It could be as simple as how can I express kindness today?  Perhaps that is enough. 

I hope this moment of clarity stays with me in this next phase of life.  As I explore the next phase ahead of me and contemplate on what my purpose is and how it is directed, can I remind myself my purpose today can equate with kindness?  It could be words of encouragement to a friend or family member.  A smile to a stranger.  Or a momentary conversation with an acquaintance, where your entire presence is made available.  Kindness is priceless.  It can be enough.  

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” —Mother Teresa.

Luxury Latte

A coffee purchase has always been a special treat that wasn’t a daily task, but a weekly splurge.  This is different when I travel, and don’t have my own luxuries at hand.  I buy coffee frequently when I am on the road, as a way to merge with the time zone I am residing in, get wifi, or even as a way to bond with my mom over a latte.  

But what has happened to people and their caffeine purchases?  Starbucks drive thrus are the rage in American suburbs.  And when you enter the infamous facilities in NYC, there are less and less Starbucks that have tables.  People aren’t standing at an espresso bar taking their espresso shops with other customers.  They are taking their orders and leaving.    People have a mobile order, enter a coffee shop wearing headphones, search for their printed name on cups, and do not even have to greet the baristas or any other people in the shop.  Human interaction and engagement is limited.   

What has happened?  I think what many coffee chains have turned into is simply adrenaline stations. It’s as if everyone has morphed into zombies and this is a zombie station.  We travel to and from work uber caffeinated.  We are paying loads for a caffeine boost, but do we even taste what we are drinking anymore?  Although espresso has caffeine in it and it definitely fuels you, the point of drinking a latte is to drink it slow.  Mobile orders are the rage here in America.  The world is not immune.  I recognize people opt for Uber Eats deliveries at my local Parisian Starbucks.  

Is cafe culture dead? 

  If I could, I would sit in coffee shops for hours.  But it seems others do not look forward to this.  They want a packaged prompt drink, not a crafted experience that takes time to appreciate.  This is all an example of time poverty.  We may be an affluent culture that can spend money on luxury items, but many are lacking the luxury of time.  This is a concept in positive psychology called time affluence.  We feel we are abundant with time in our lives.  This concept is not reserved solely for the youth or the retired.  Anyone can have it?  It’s how you interact and engage with time, with your commutes, with your loved ones, and even with your latte.

So next time you order a latte, slow down and drink it, maybe even while sitting in a café.  

What are you waiting for?

            Yesterday I wore a dress for no particular reason for the first time.  There was nothing special about the day, an impromptu market stroll, lunch, and beach time.  But I decided since I’m on holiday, why not?  I had brought the dress with me, what was I waiting for?  So often with “premiering an outfit,” (as my friend Erica says), I feel it must be for a particular occasion.  But why?  If this is the case, I may be waiting for a day that never arrives.

            Last year, I had gone shopping at a vintage shop in Bury St. Edmunds, and debated to by a fascinator for my hair.  I didn’t think I had a fancy event to wear this to, and said it aloud to a friend.  The store worker said, “every day can be special or fancy.”  Her words of encouragement stayed with me.  I bought the hair piece.  She was a great sales lady, but also spoke poignant words.  I need to remind myself this.  It’s like when people are deliberate of what dishes to use for guests or themselves.  They wait to put out only the good silverware or expensive plates for guests.  Aren’t we enough to celebrate? 

This may seem trivial to think of our precious belongings we own, and our desire to savor them for the right moments.  But expand your view of what this is representative of.  The time is now.  Life is short and if we take this mentality, there is value and worth in every moment.  It doesn’t have to be captured on film or be filled with other people wearing expensive attire to count.  Our life is full of moments available for us to participate and luxuriate in.

 “One can make a day of any size and regulate the rising and setting of his own sun and the brightness of its shining.”

– John Muir.