…On the kindness of strangers

This doesn’t really have anything to do with writing. Or maybe it does, since we have to get our inspiration from somewhere, and because it is the smallest moments that make a piece of writing the most meaningful.

This morning, I woke up early and decided to finally go and get porch furniture. It’s a gorgeous day here in Louisville and I have a ton of writing due in a day and a half and wanted to work outside (and, too, shopping means an excuse to procrastinate, but that’s beside the point). Target had their lawn and garden stuff clearanced, and the Cartwheel app had an additional coupon.

Long story short, I wound up getting two folding chairs, a table, and a rocking chair. The two chairs and table fit into my car with no problem. As for the rocking chair, we’ll just say that I remembered why I don’t usually buy large things–my spatial awareness is lacking. I called on all my Tetris skills trying to cram this thing into my car–the backseat, the front seat, the trunk, seats down, seats up… I was a hot, sweaty mess and called the chair as many names as I could remember, and some I made up on the spot.



(Such a small chair to have caused so much trouble)

Just as I was about to take the damn thing back inside and get a refund, a woman came up to me and offered to help. When it didn’t fit in her car either, she drove to her mom’s house and borrowed a minivan, drove back to Target, then followed me from Target to my house. I thanked her profusely, and of course offered gas money, which she refused. She just asked that I remember to pay the favor forward, and that sometimes “God puts people in our paths, or parking lots, when we need them.”

I write about a lot of dark things–child abuse, my own traumatic past, etc–and sometimes this means I overlook the beautiful things life has to offer. My past has taught me, among other things, that most people aren’t to be trusted and if someone does something nice, there’s usually an ulterior motive. I would never approach someone in a parking lot and offer to help, because I would be terrified of being lured somewhere and attacked. I’m not proud of this, but it’s the truth. I suppose I took Blanche DuBois’s lesson to heart–relying on the kindness of strangers risks relying on a Stanley, a predator. Today, though, I got a glimpse of the other side, and how things could be if we all would just stay open to beauty and positivity and understand that the smallest gifts we have to offer can mean the most.

As writers, we need to be open to the small in event but large in meaning events. Regardless of our genre, these are the moments that make our pieces come to life for our readers (when we’re lucky enough to have them!) Writing is a solitary endeavor, but it is our contact with the larger world outside our heads that gives us material for our solitudinal creations.

Everything is material. To quote the late, great Sylvia Plath, “And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”


(My own little front porch writing station. Complete with birds singing and a nice summer breeze.)



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