Finding Joy out of Failure
Right now, I am emotionally drained; my feelings are bruised, my body is sore, and my eyes are heavy…
Last week began on an enthusiastic high; I was preparing to host a stall at the markets with fresh floral arrangements – a hobby I had dabbled in but never shared with the public, as well as homemade sewn items. I had made a few trips into Brisbane to buy supplies, stupidly decided to stay up to what you could call parentally reckless hours of the morning, and even roped in a friend to care for Gemma overnight on her first ever sleepover. But the piece de resistance of effort came on Saturday, when my husband and I spent most of our day producing fresh floral arrangements, after scouring the flower markets with 3 hours of sleep to power us through. It was also on this day that BOTH kids decided it prudent to exercise their finest meltdown skills. It was a tremendous effort on their behalves – truly.
I had finally made it to the markets (in the middle of a disgusting heat-wave mind you) to be allocated an inconspicuous spot next to the trolley bay. Glamorous start. Despite this, and the continued turbulent emotional state of the children, I was enthusiastic and raring to go. Four hours I manned that stall – and in those 4 hours, 2 people bought flower arrangements totaling less than $20. I had paid more money on the stall fees, and the jumping castle and popcorn for Gemma. It was absolutely guttering. I had spent a small fortune of our family’s money on fresh flowers and to no avail. I was feeling like a proper dickhead; thank goodness a lovely Kiwi lady took pity on me and gifted to me the best darn fish roll with homemade tartare sauce I had ever eaten, along with a chocolate cookie. Her kindness had lifted my spirits from the floor.
The next 24 hours saw me placing multiple ads on Gumtree, Instagram and Facebook trying to get rid of the remaining arrangements. I was lucky a friend offered to buy 2, after which Clint and I spent 4 hours on the side of a busy road holding a poster as cars drove by, subjecting us to a myriad of reactions. I was ridiculed, laughed at, and beeped at, with only a few friendly waves of encouragement. Forty degrees of smug heat, armed with water spray for the flowers, we managed to sell 2 vastly underpriced arrangements in 4 hours! I had reached ‘bugger this’ point. And so I phoned the Wesley hospital and asked if I could gift the remaining flowers to palliative care patients.
Hands down, that was the best darn part of my weekend! I turned my shitty, dismal failure into joy. But what really struck me the most was the sincere gratitude and grace of the patients there. I didn’t think what I was doing was particularly special; there was no way I was going to take home hundreds of dollars worth of bouquets just to rot. It seemed to me like the course of action anyone else would have done; yet here were patients telling me I had rekindled their faith in humanity, that they couldn’t express just what I had done for them, that I was a fantastic mother to my children, and so on. They’re intense things to hear, making for a truly humbling and rewarding experience and it was a fantastic way to heal the wounds of taking a large financial, physical and emotional hit.
One particular comment made by a patient (who on a side note was the most beautiful, gracious older lady I had ever met, who was now sadly dying from breast cancer) probed deeper thought. She told me that it was becoming a rarity to see kindness given freely. It took me back to Brisbane city a few weeks back.
There was a homeless man sitting on the curb of a rather prominent foot-traffic street. He had a simple accompanying sign written, ‘Hungry and homeless’. The kids, husband and I at that point were completely buggered, having walked around South Bank and the city in sweltering heat (long story). At first, in our rush to finally get to our destination, we walked straight past him. But I felt immoral, and then compelled to turn around and give him the note that I didn’t need in our wallet. That $10 is a McDonald’s meal; it’s 2 items at the supermarket. Whilst I like having that $10, its value to me is far less substantial than it is to a homeless person.
What struck me though, was that his hat was empty. We were surrounded by affluent appearing people, briskly walking about the city, always rushing and indifferent to their surroundings. For those of you who don’t know, Brisbane city is busting at the seams with cafes and restaurants and all types in-between. This is seemingly how Brisbanites bond – over food and drink within the confines of their concrete and glass skyscrapers. Thus, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to conclude that there is a fair amount of money changing hands. So why was this man being ignored by passer-byes who wouldn’t suffer from donating their spare change?
I’ve heard (okay, more accurately seen, written on social media) the outcries of “help our own first”, “homeless Aussies over third-world people” but I haven’t yet witnessed it.
How do we help at the ground-roots level? Are we too intimidated to approach the homeless, are we indifferent to them, or do we just not know how we can help? Can we all perhaps give more of our soul to others through kind gestures?
So I’ll leave the post on this pertinent question:
What small act of kindness can you do, or have done, to bring joy to someone else’s day?
(I’d love to hear your stories).