A few weeks ago, a movie was suggested to me. Named St Vincent, and starring Bill Murray, I found it to be a good story well acted - but I am not sure I got out of it the message which was intended.
In this movie, Bill Murray plays the role of a grumpy, gruff, and rather rude older alcoholic dude who becomes the semi unwilling baby sitter to the kid next door. Within a short time, the boy and he get closer, and as the movie progresses, Bill Murray enhances the kid’s life by mentoring him in various ways. At the end of the movie (spoiler alert) the kid stands in front of his whole class and declares Murray to be a Saint.
I’m skipping over a bunch of good scenes here, just so I can get to my point.
Which is the “Saint” part.
Throughout the film, some vignettes - past and present - allow us some peeking into the guy’s heart: he was a war hero. He has, for the last eight years, gone to tenderly visit his Alzheimer afflicted wife everyday (he even takes her laundry home to wash it himself). He grumpily takes care of his friends. Under the tough facade, yes he is a good man. And yes, it is always touching to see a gruff old dude act sweetly. The contrast gets to us, and we love to get misty-eyed about that sort of things. It makes for a good movie, too.
Yet - and to me that’s a big yet - during the course of a normal day, this guy goes out into the world and is generally pretty darn rude to people who cross his path. Not beating anyone up or anything, but fairly regularly leaving people feeling like poop for having spent a few minutes around him. Sometimes it’s his words, and sometimes it’s his vibe. Results are about the same.
So at the end of the movie, when the boy gets on the school stage and declares his buddy to be a Saint ... I am not so sure. To me, if anyone is a Saint, it may be the kid for being able to see so much good in the guy.
Maybe you’ve seen the film, and maybe you don’t agree with my take on it. The person who suggested I watch it certainly doesn’t. Maybe I am going to get a whole bunch of emails telling me what I have missed, too. That’s ok.
Where am I going with this?
Let me explain:
Last week while in Nice, France, and even though I had made it clear that I didn’t want to go on the Promenade des Anglais, following the terrible 14th of July events, my GPS decided otherwise, and I found myself driving multiple times on the very street where so much heartache took place, so recently. My heart felt like it weighed 200 pounds, and I was reminded of all the pain, all the unfixable pain that had taken place in just the last 6 months, all over the world. All the people whose lives have been shattered, whose hearts live with a big gaping hole in them.
I was reminded of all the things over which I have so little control, when it comes to the intrinsic color of someone’s inner terrain.
And pretty soon, this reminded me of all the things over which I DO have control when it comes to slightly bettering someone’s day: I have control over the words I use, even in a short interaction with a stranger. I have control over my smile, when I see someone in the street. I have control over my energy, my vibe, too.
I have control over whether I leave things better than I found them - or not.
In a way, that’s a Super Power.
Back to the film, Murray’s character, as we all do, also has control over his words. And no matter how good a guy he may be when someone gets to know him well, the fact that he chooses to waste his Super Power - but rather use its opposite - on a daily basis - makes me decidedly withhold my vote for him as a Saint.
There are a whole lot of hearts broken all over the planet, today. Most likely a whole lot of tender hearts just in our neighborhoods, too. Which means that there are a whole lot of opportunities to use our Super Power and ... to leave things better than we found them. One tiny interaction at a time.
I see this is a daily opportunity, an hourly one, even. It is an opportunity that takes place at the grocery store as much as at home. With lovable creatures like babies and puppies, and with less lovable people like the ones who cut us off on the freeway and the smelly homeless lady down the street. With our kids, and with the waitress. With ourselves, too.
Today, I invite you to meet a little challenge with me. I invite you to pledge adding some goodness to the world, one little tiny bit of sweetness at a time. With just a smile, even.
At zero financial cost.
And then I invite you to invite anyone you know to join in with us, in that pledge. I am thinking that if 1,000 of us take that pledge, that’s going to make at least 10,000 people’s day a little bit better. And while we cannot change the big picture, making 10,000 people’s day a little bit better is a really good start.
Because this, we can do.
With a big hug,
PS: to invite others to join us, you can forward this email or share on FB straight from the top left of pledge page.