Sometimes the hardest things to see are the ones we see every day — and it takes an event like this week's explosion in Boston, or last week's shooting in a Virgina mall, or last December's masacre in Newton, Conn., to recalibrate focus.
At a busy intersection in the middle of a sunny afternoon, two men were trying mightily to push a monolithic SUV into a gas station driveway while a third motorist pulled over to help the cause.
At a busy freeway onramp, a woman stood on the shoulder of the road, drizzle dampening her face, and waved a red scarf at motorists. Around the bend and jutting into the lane was a sedan, its front end dented. Opposite that car was another vehicle, its left side scratched and sad looking. On the embankment one woman sat with another, the first with her arm around the second, whose head was bowed into her knees.
At a bayside park an elderly man shuffled through the parking lot, tossing bread crumbs and seed onto the ground as the gathering of pigeons at his feet grew and slowly spread out, like a widening puddle of feathers.
Standing outside a 7-Eleven a man in white pants splattered with dried paint holds the door open for a woman. Then a second. And a third. Finally another man approaches and holds the door for the painter.
Inside a grocery store a woman offers to allow the woman in front of her to use her “rewards card” for additional savings. Outside the store a man in tattered clothes scratches behind a dirty dog’s ear.
Perhaps most amazing of all, on a southbound freeway in gridlocked traffic during the evening commute, one motorist allowed another motorist to merge into her lane. And the one who was let in waved appreciatively.
There are episodes like those every day in our lives. Small, almost imperceptible moments in which people with no connection to each other — except for the happenstance of sharing the same space at a particular time — act kindly toward one another.
Those moments are there. Every day. Every hour. But it’s easy to lose sight of them in the haze of events that leave us questioning mankind’s fate.
When a bomb explodes or a gunman shoots these days, the news and social media coverage is constant and the worst of what we are and what we can be is amplified.
But the kindness prevails and what we call good people far out number the bad.
That reality is of little solace to those who are directly affected by the cruelty of others, but for those of us on the outside trying to make sense of it all, sometimes it’s all we have to cling to.