“I Won’t Grow Up”

Recognize the title? Peter Pan sings the song with his Lost Boys. While I could review that original novel (maybe I will someday), I want to share with you the bittersweet story of Peter Pan’s female counterpart, Lucinda Wyman. The book is Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer and tells the story of a girl you will fall in love with, a girl who discovers how to love life.

Roller_Skates_Ruth_Sawyer

Roller Skates was published in 1936, a Newbery Medalist in 1937, and is set in New York City in the 1890’s. Too old-fashioned, you think? Ah, but that’s what makes a classic. The story is timeless, for every human soul longs for friends and desires to be a good friend to others.

Like The Little Princess, Lucinda is the poor little rich girl. In her case, Mother and Father still live, but no one in her family pays attention to her other than to bemoan the fact that she isn’t a lady and will never be beautiful. With that kind of nurture, Lucinda has been labeled a “problem child” whose temper is constantly on the rampage. When her mother needs a year in Italy to regain her health, they send Lucinda to live with a trusted teacher at her school. And that wonderful lady understands children.

Lucinda has the freedom to explore the wonders of people. Her enthusiastic interest in everything around her, her desire to learn about the people she meets endears her to all of them: the hansom cab driver, the Italian immigrants who run a fruit stand, the Irish policeman on her block, guests at her parents’ hotel, the poor family who rents the apartment above her teacher’s, and many more.

Children playing in the street circa 1900

Children playing in the street circa 1900

As she experiences one adventure after another, Lucinda literally roller skates through New York. Her energy is contagious, and as the reader, I wished I had taken advantage of all those small precious moments when I was a child.

At the end of the story, Lucinda must return to her own home. Will she strive to continue to savor life’s little moments? Or will she allow herself to be molded into a young lady of high society? The author gives you a hint (I won’t tell you where in the story such hint occurs.). Let’s just say Ruth Sawyer wrote an autobiography of one slice of her life.

roller skates

My Interrupted Day

She had an unfair advantage because I wore an employee related name tag, but I didn’t even know her name. We’d had what amounted to a briefer than brief conversation a couple days before. But today, she obviously needed to talk because my simple “Hi, there,” resulted in a ten minute conversation about difficult personal stuff—a judge’s ruling, the realities of divorced parenting, and the pain of separation.

My mind already spun with the details of the full day ahead of me. I didn’t have time for a lengthy conversation. At first I inched away but pretty soon, I stopped moving. All she needs is someone to listen.

Relief washed through me when she mentioned crying out to God that He would provide a way through what she could only see as an impossible situation. In fact after a night of prayer and soul searching, she felt His guidance directing her toward what only yesterday she would not have considered. And she was okay with it—she could see the possibilities. God in His infinite wisdom knew what her humanness could not comprehend, and His all-encompassing grace and power had begun to mold her will to His.

I didn’t have answers for her tough situation, but I could tell she wasn’t expecting me to. All she needed was someone to listen.

freedigitalphotos by Kittisak

freedigitalphotos by Kittisak

Throughout the day, other random occasions came to mind. Times when I was in the right place at the right time to reach out to someone. Today, my racing mind put aside the details of the day and made a conscious effort to listen. But that wasn’t always the case. I wonder to which side the scale would tip to if I could look into the past and weigh when I took the time to be there for someone versus the times I insisted on being too busy to care. I’m pretty sure the results wouldn’t make me feel good.

We set aside, in an obligatory sort of way, a week to do nice things for people –Random Acts of Kindness week which fell on February 10-16 this year. I’m not sure I realized the yearly observance was happening at all. I was probably too busy, trying to burn the candle at both ends and somewhere in the middle too. But that’s not how I want to live… missing the chances to love on people.

I want to be a person who doesn’t miss opportunities to be kind, to be a listening ear, to just be there. Someone who will sense a need—you know, not have to be knocked over with a bulldozer—and take the time to do something. And not just that one week each year.

photo/goodneighborstories.com

photo/goodneighborstories.com

There’s nothing wrong with a national observance. It raises awareness and prompts intentional consideration. A lot of people probably extend the acts of kindness for at least a little while. Like the way the “drive-thru difference”, the act of paying for the order of the car behind you, has caught on. People have been blessed—both the givers and the receivers.

But what if we practiced a random acts of kindness life? What if, each day, we chose to go out of our way to assist or befriend or hug someone? What if we looked closely at the people who cross our path? What if we took the time every day to care?

I can only imagine how that much looking out for others would impact the world. You see, if lots of people are keeping their ears and eyes open to the needs of others, there would have to be a lot less time for “me, me, me” thinking.

I hereby pledge to be intentional about seeking and finding random opportunities to practice kindness. Will you join me?

What’s the nicest random act of kindness you’ve experienced?