Last night I had a copy of 29 Days shipped to my mum and called it "my first gift". I also arranged a for a basket of goodies to be delivered to her tomorrow - on her birthday - since she won't receive 29 Days until next week.
But since I only decided in the afternoon that that would be my first gift, I'm calling today Day 1.
Every morning I get up at 6am to leave my house by 6:50 so I have time to sit down at the cafe opposite the station and indulge myself in a decent coffee (they're hard to come by in London, you see). I normally listen to my music and read, or catch up with what happened on Facebook back home while I was sleeping. Recently, my morning coffee has been coinciding with the morning coffee of a man and his dog. I have no recollection of how we wound up chatting that first day. I do remember thinking "you're disturbing my morning coffee, can't you see I'm trying to read!" But now we're on a first name basis, the dog enjoys my attentions and we've shared some oddly personal insights into our lives. I guess it's that kind of situation where anonymity allows one to divulge all. And when we're not chatting I enjoy the peace - just watching the world go by, without my music blaring in my ears or being lost to another world in a book.
This morning he wasn't there when I arrived. So I asked the girls behind the counter what he drinks and then I paid for his next coffee. They told me he'd already been in for the day. I said "that's fine, I'll pay for his coffee tomorrow".
I don't even think about the money I spend on coffee, although given my financial situation at the moment I probably should. But the cost of a coffee feels particularly inconsequential to me, so the money wasn't an issue. And I know he's doing it a bit tough at the moment, although that wasn't the reason I wanted to do it either. It was just about the gesture, a random act of kindness.
I haven't had to deal with his response yet, I suppose tomorrow will bring that. I wonder what it will be?
Anyway, then the girl behind the counter, who has been serving me every day for three months, commented that I have beautiful eyes. I graciously accepted her compliment. And as I took my coffee from the counter and sat at the tables out the front a woman, who I've never so much as exchanged glances with although I know we often cross paths whilst fetching our morning indulgence, said "hi!". When I looked up I thought she must have confused me for someone else but she followed up with "You look really nice today!", so it can't have been a mistake.
I couldn't believe it! - I received two compliments before 8:15am and I'd only given my first gift - not yet received by the recipient - minutes earlier.
Obviously I smiled to myself like a lunatic for an extended period of time, knowing what had caused the unlikely interactions.
Could it be that I was exuding a "look of giving" that manifested itself in my physical appearance?
This evening on my way home I was offered a seat on the packed tube by a man much older than myself, presumably based solely on the fact that he was a man and I a woman - and they say chivalry is dead! I declined - I like to stand. But a few stops later, when my eyelids got heavy and I dozed off leaning against the glass pane (a particular skill of mine - to sleep standing on the tube) I was gently coerced out of my nap by the same man tapping me on the shoulder and insisting I take his seat. I snoozed all the way home and when I awoke I was surprised to see he was still on the train - we'd nearly covered the entire line. He queried whether I'd missed my stop. I told him it was the next one and thanked him again.
It's funny, these little interactions I've had today that I know I normally wouldn't have had.
And it's only Day 1!
So, I'm grateful to that man on the train who not only offered, but insisted I take his seat on the tube. I'm grateful for my mum - the most amazing woman I know - and wish her all the happiness the world has to offer on her birthday. And, among many other things, I'm grateful to my coffee buddy Peter and his dog Diva for reminding me what joy can come from engaging with the world instead of always being locked away in a book or music.
Bring on Day 2!