Last Tuesday, at two o’clock in the morning, there came a series of knocks at my door. The noise woke me up, but I tried to ignore it. The knocker persisted, and I eventually dragged myself out of bed to see what was going on.
A half-hour later, I found myself in hospital.
It was a neighbor who had come knocking, an Australian girl who had suddenly been hit with a nasty illness. She was experiencing waves of pain in her legs and was having difficulty breathing. Like me, she was a solo traveler, fairly new to Peru, and she wasn’t sure where to go for help. She was scared and crying.
I put her in a taxi and enlisted some friends to figure out where to take her. The hospital demanded cash up-front before they’d let her see a doctor, so I ran to an ATM and got what she needed. Then I waited around for a couple of hours until she got settled in a room and felt more at ease about the situation. The next day I visited her three times to make sure everything was going okay and she was happy with her treatment. I dropped in again the next day, and the day after that, sitting and chatting with her for an hour each time. She was eventually diagnosed with typhoid, and on day four felt healthy enough to return home.
Now before you go thinking I’m such a good samaritan, let me tell you another quick story…
Last weekend I was walking down a random street in Cusco, on my way to lunch. The sun was shining and I was in no hurry. I saw a middle-aged man pushing a car along the road. He was a taxi driver whose bread had obviously broken down. He was having some difficulty with the pushing, and it occurred to me that I could easily run over and help him for a few minutes.
But I didn’t. I just kept on walking, telling myself that he’d be fine without me, and that my offer of help might be misunderstood what with the language barrier and everything.
Really though, I didn’t have a good excuse not to help that man. It was just easier to keep walking. But the fact that I didn’t offer a hand ate away at me. Indeed, it’s now a week later and I’m still thinking about it. The question I keep asking myself is this:
“What kind of world do I want to live in?”
The answer is that I want to live in a world where people don’t think twice about helping a stranger. They just go and do it.
That same question came to mind when my neighbor knocked at my door at two o’clock in the morning, and when she told me she didn’t have any cash to pay the hospital, and in the following days when she was holed up there with nobody to visit her.
What kind of world do I want to live in?
- I want to live in a world where I feel safe and cared for when I get sick, even if I happen to be in a foreign country at the time with few friends around.
- I want to live in a world where the old lady at the coffee shop doesn’t have to lift all those heavy bags in off the street while a young man sits oblivious, tapping away at his laptop.
- I want to live in a world where strangers receive smiles and acknowledgement when they walk in a room, made to feel welcome.
- I want to live in a world where guys don’t let the fear of rejection or the opinions of bystanders stop them from approaching an attractive woman and expressing interest.
- I want to live in a world where people go all out to live their dreams, and receive ample support and encouragement along the way.
- I want to live in a world where people apologize and do their best to make amends when they fuck up.
- I want to live in a world where acceptance and forgiveness is the default.
- I want to live in a world where everyone works hard to become the best possible version of themselves.
- I want to live in a kind world, a friendly world, a world of love and connection.
Funny thing is, I can live in that world whenever I choose:
- I can go out of my way to make that fellow traveler feel safe and cared for when they fall ill in a foreign country.
- I can step away from the laptop and help the old lady carry those heavy bags in off the street.
- I can smile and acknowledge people when they walk in the room, make them feel welcome.
- I can bust through the doubts and fears to go talk with that cute girl across the way.
- I can go all out to live my dreams, and offer support and encouragement to others who do likewise.
- I can take full responsibility for my fuck-ups, say I’m sorry and try my best to make things right.
- I can accept others as they are, and forgive them for their mistakes.
- I can work hard to become the best person I can be, and help others do the same.
- I can be kind, and friendly, and offer love and connection.
Tell me: what kind of world do you want to live in?
Like this post? It was heavily influenced by Charles Eisenstein’s new book, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible. A highly recommended read.