Posts Tagged: kind gesture

a weekend of the restorative kind

My weekend was restorative.  I decompressed from the hellish work week previous and all that time not doing things at home.  Like laundry.  It was the perfect weekend for a recovery. 

Saturday morning I awake to rain (never a sorry sound to wake up to as far as I’m concerned) and then thunderstorms and then drizzling rain and blustery, chilly dampness.  I get out anyway and nose around downtown and buy some groceries and a few other items I’d been wanting.  One could never accuse me of spoiling too much weekend doing things like housework.

Sunday morning shows pity on us weekenders, and opens the curtains wide, letting the heavens shed down a most welcome and most luminescent heat.  I attend the Muhtadi International Drumming Festival up at Queen's Park.  The afternoon is pretty much perfect; I move between sunny spots and shady spots and listen to drum sounds that at once electrify you and plant you on the earth.  (Drumming arts at a time one needs some soul reviving: beautiful thing number forty.)

Drum Fest The 2011 Muhtadi International Drumming Festival, Queen's Park

I've arranged to meet up with Kelsey so I walk slowly back through the University of Toronto Campus.  It strikes me how I’d forgotten how much I love to be on a campus, and I wonder what life would be like had I chosen a path of academia.  I don’t dwell on that thought too long, but I decide I need to visit this university more often.  A campus bursting with green under sunlight: beautiful thing number forty-one.

Dappled Sun at U of TDappled Sunlight, University of Toronto  

As I’m heading back toward College St., groups of heavily garbed Muslim women pass me by going the other way.  I can’t help but feel the contrast in us, me in my summer skirt and cleavage revealing tank top and sandals.  Having just turned 50, I embrace my cleavage as a badge of honour, but the opposing theories regarding what one wears as a badge of honour is palpable as I move amongst the young women. 

I smile at them as I would any stranger passing me by, though most of them, chatting amongst themselves or with thoughts elsewhere, ignore me.  But then one woman makes a point of pausing to smile back with a small wave.  I wave back, and the turn of her body in her long black gown and veil and charming smile makes me think suddenly of that nun who flashed the peace sign in the Woodstock movie. 

Let's call the smiling women, one at the U of T on a sunny day in June 2011 and one on a muddy concert site in August 1969, beautiful things number forty-two and forty-thee.

Nun WoodstockAnother gesture, another era.

I walk down to Spadina Ave. and hook up with Kelsey and we have dinner on a patio then take a meandering walk around the Harbourfront piers, chatting as the sun sinks in the sky and loosens its hold on the day.  And I even finish the laundry.

let me get it

The other day, eight colleagues and I went out to lunch on the occasion of one person’s last day with the company.  After lunch was finished, H disappeared and came back putting his credit card in his wallet, saying he had got lunch for the table.

Immediately people started saying things like “oh you can’t do that” and “please, how much do I owe you?”  H just said quietly, “it’s Christmas, and I like all of you and you’re great to work with and I want to buy lunch.”

If it was a conscious decision to simply accept gestures like these, I don’t remember making it.  Maybe I’m just mindful of the notion that a kindness like this is not only enjoyed by the receiver, but by the giver too.  Often the giver enjoys it more. 

And with meals –the sharing of food and conversation together – the offer of one person to buy a meal seems especially warm and genuine.  While my financial situation was such that it wasn’t possible for many years, I can now to offer to buy the meal when I go out with someone and I get a great deal of pleasure in doing so.  As I imagine it did H that day.

So when H countered the protests with such grace, I just said to him “Thank you H, you’re very kind.”

I got to wondering why people feel obliged to protest a gesture like that.  Is it some kind of modesty or percieved duty to let the person off the hook in case they really don’t want to pay?  Or some more deep-seated  issue, some kind of threat to one’s strength as a person?  Of course I know there is no intended falseness in the spirit of the protests, but it's like they’re almost expected when the gesture is extended. 

So when it was clear that H had paid for the meal and that was that, I suggested that it was a good opportunity to pay the kindness forward – and find a way to do something nice for someone else that day in H’s honour.  That seemed to appease everyone.  After all, it’s Christmas.