I am taking a 6-week online course: “A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment“. It is actually a happy and fulfilling course. Lots of fun. The third week Assignment is “Creative Altruism” – an exercise in which I (and tens of thousands of other students around the world) do something cost-effective that adds some joy and excitement into the lives of three strangers. I chose to hand make three greeting cards by pasting a snapshot into each card and composing/writing a haiku inspired by each image.
I decided to give the three cards away to three strangers that I met on my approximately 1.5 hour commute between my home and office. (Click on the thumbnails below to see larger images). I gave the cards away on a Festive Friday! morning. The Festive! bit is Silly!, since today, January 8 2016, is a cloudy rain-threatening morning. But I am Silly!…
I felt pretty silly approaching them and giving them the gifts. It has been a long time since I have been brash and extrovert… And anyway: I hate it when people approach me to panhandle, give religious tracts, etc. Thanks to the gracious acceptance of these three people. I’ll be a bit more tolerant in future. Here are the reactions of folk when I gave them the gifts:
Card 1: (Lihir fisherman, PNG). Given to a shuttle bus driver waiting at the curb of Hillsdale Caltrain Station. He was the first person I saw after my wife dropped me off. I explained that I was “On Assignment”, and for my homework was giving three strangers a gift each. He gave me a big smile and said he would read the card later, since he was just setting off on his next shuttle trip.
Card 2: (Children playing in Mantua). On BART (San Francisco subway system) almost everybody was looking at their smartphone, or asleep. The train was crowded. I felt a bit like a stalker trying to identify a person who would not reject me. So, I decided to wait until I got off at my station in Oakland. I saw one elderly lady sitting on a platform bench and gave the card to her. She seemed wisely cautious and maybe dubious of me as I explained my mission. But she took the card envelope and said she would look at it later. She put it on the seat beside her. So maybe she left it there unread. And somebody else will see it: that is OK, too.
Card 3: (TGVs at Lyons). (TGV = “Tren Grande Vitesse” or “Very Fast Train” (like a bullet train). Trying to be clever, I had meant for this card to be the first one I gave at the Caltrain train station but mixed the cards up. No matter. I gave it to a young lady waiting in the lobby of the offices on the floor below my office. She seemed delighted. She opened the card and I think was happily surprised – her smile was lovely. She demurred when I asked if I could take her photo. Wise her…
This has been a fun Assignment. I enjoyed it. And I have been motivated to post to my website for the first time in about two years. I have enjoyed the writing again….