Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hands and Feet Day 14: Queen City Calibration

Today was the 14th day of an idea that will take me 30 days to complete. In a nutshell, my task is to perform at least one act of kindness for someone else at least one time a day, and the act must push me outside of my comfort zone.

Went cruising with Superman today. He needed help with his cape, and so we used a trusty paper clip to keep it from dragging on the ground. He was pleased, and I was happy to feel sort of like MacGyver ... in my own little way.

He looked at his cape in the mirror like 7 times.

My plan was to go to Newport on the Levy. Wanted to purchase a book with no words it in, thinking that I'd have other people fill-it-in later. Surprising, how much books with no words cost. Almost like the words are free when you compare the price of a book with "no words" to a book "with words."

On the way to Newport, I see two men fighting on Queen City Avenue. I'm on the phone at the time with someone who puts words in books, and I say, "There's two guys fighting!"

It bothered me. Not sure right now why it did. Turned around at the UDF close to Sunset Avenue. Really, the UDF is closer to another street, but Sunset is the only street coming to mind at the moment, and for the sake of story it doesn't really matter, does it?

After turning around, we drove past these two guys again. Screamed some stuff at them that must have smelled like "Stop!". The person I was talking to on the phone remarked how different I sounded.


Superman's in the backseat and Riley (at twelve months old) is traumatized and calibrated, I'm sure, as I slow down to about 12 miles per hour to scream at these two grown men fighting on Queen City. Felt like my voice was a little high-pitched. Like I had a bell to ring at recess or something.

Drove back to a guy laying on the sidewalk. He was drunk. Taking a nap.

Two other people stopped too. We were comrades.

Called 911 and waited for way too long. Left when a really, really skinny cop showed.

Didn't touch the guy taking the nap. When on the phone with 911, they advised me not too. Felt really uncomfortable not touching him, and now in hindsight, it feels even worse.

He needed to be touched. Someone. He was alone. Hurt. Drunk. Untouched.

(Thinking now, if superman was not strapped in his car-seat in the back of the hand-me-down Camery, things would have been different.)

Next time.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hands and Feet Day 1: Fishing at Fountain Square

Today was the first day of an idea that will take me 30 days to complete. In a nutshell, my task is to perform at least on act of kindness for someone else at least one time a day, and the act must push me outside of my comfort zone.

Sunday, August 8th:

I piled the kids in the car, and we hit the road with no idea where to go. Thought about going to Newport on the Levy, and then to Kenwood Mall ... but finally decided to just keep driving. We drove through Price Hill, passing my first apartment, and ended up downtown, where we sort of just drove around some more. At some point I said barely loud enough to hear, "God, I'm yours. Tell me where to go."

I think we passed a prostitute at one point. Or else, an asian lady (I think "a lady") just made a strangely-serious effort to make and maintain really, really intense eye contact with me as I drove by. Oh, and she was dressed like a prostitute.

Sort of felt weird in that I was "fishing" for someone to serve. We drove around and around downtown, me looking for a bite. Someone to do something kind for. Must admit that this did make me look at people differently.

We ended up parking the car under Fountain Square, and my plan was to put Riley in the stroller, and she, Ethan (who was dressed like Spiderman) and I would walk around until I found someone that I could do something nice for.

Because I was fishing, meaning I was on a sort of a mission to find someone that needed something that I could provide, my experience of walking around downtown was different than normal. I talked to people I normally wouldn't. Made eye contact with lots, and lots of people. More than usual. Maybe I'm a prostitute.

Was fishing for an opportunity to be "Hands and Feet," so I felt a different rhythm to the walking around. Wasn't simply going from point A to point B ... or accomplishing task 4 on a list of 10 "to-dos." Because I was on this fishing mission without a real firm idea of where to look, we explored places that we normally wouldn't. Walked around some of the floors of the hotel. Sort of "got lost" while having fun playing on the elevators. Searched around what's left of the "Sky Walk."

At one point, I realized that I was exploring downtown with Spiderman, me with a pink and cream diaper bag over my shoulder.

Right before giving up and heading to another location, we decided to wander away from Fountain Square and toward the bus terminal, which is where we met *Colorado*.

A middle-aged (although it's hard to tell) woman was sitting on the ground, back against a building. We walked by, and I made the point to stop (which I normally wouldn't do) and say "Hi, how are you?" She looked up, smiled, and said "Oh, I'm doing OK I guess," but she said it while sort of looking around as if she knew her answer wasn't really true, or as if she was looking for someone else who was in worse shape than she was so it could be relatively true.

She was eating what looked like lasagna on a small, white, styrofoam plate.

To my question of "how are you," she finally responded with, "well, I'm trying to get back to Colorado, .... I really like your city, ... and I'm trying to panhandle enough to get back, ... but I only ever make enough money to last me the day."

This was her asking me for money. I wondered if her Lasagna was warm, and if it was, where she warmed it up.

I gave her some money. Five bucks. Noticed how tall and thin she was when she unfolded to grab the money from my hand.

She then said, "I'm looking for a church or an organization that can maybe help me get home."

I told her about "City Gospel Mission." She asked me if this is the church that I go to.

Not sure which: if the money or the pointing to the church was more valuable to her, but they were equally easy for me. Felt like it wasn't enough.

She remarked how pretty my little girl in the Spiderman costume was. I thanked her, and said that she's a boy. Colorado sort of apologized and said that people sometime mistake her for a man too.

She commented on my daughter in the stroller, saying how beautiful she was, adding "you must have a very pretty wife," to which I replied, "yes, I am blessed."

This made me feel uncomfortable. Here I am, money in my pocket, a job, cars, exploring the city with Spiderman, ... a house, family, etc. getting compliments from a homeless lady from Colorado. Wow. Don't think I've done anything to deserve my blessings, have I? Wonder if *Colorado* has done anything to deserve her seeming lack-of-blessings?

We said our goodbyes and headed to the parking garage.

Ethan wanted ice-cream, and I was thirsty, so we stopped at Graeters. Spent $6.40 on two scoops of chocolate and a diet coke. Threw one of the scoops away.

Makes me uncomfortable that I spent more on treats that I gave Colorado.

... one other thing that struck me was that she, Colorado, had the most beautifully sky-blue eyes that you could imagine. Reminded me of my son's eyes, ... Spiderman's eyes.

29 days to go.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hands and Feet: Preview

I attended the Global Leadership Summit at the Vineyard Community Church this Thursday and Friday, and while it was a mixed-bag of speakers (some better than others), I did come away feeling a little challenged.

I also came away with "pink eye," but that's a different story.

One of the things that impressed me the most is this idea of "leading where ever you are" and being the "hands and feet" of the church. These ideas really made me pause and take a look at (with my one good, non-pink eye) what I am doing with my time and opportunities to lead. So here is my plan:

Starting tomorrow (Sunday, August 8th), I will take time out of each day to do at least one act of kindness for someone else, but these acts of kindness must include things that push me outside of my normal comfort zone. So giving change to a homeless person will not do, as I'm pretty comfortable doing it. If the daily acts do not push me outside of my normal comfort zone, well, ... then they just aren't good enough. They key is feeling some sort of "sacrifice" (time, resource, comfort, ego, pride, etc.).

I will do this until September 8th, at which time I'll take some time to reflect. Leading up to that date, I plan to keep a daily web-log right here on my web-log.

30 days.