As the economy has taken a toll on the City of Angels, I have become deeply moved by the stories and experiences of the average person here living through it. It is part of how I cope with what is happening to my own household as well as the color running out of the face of the place I live, love and dream in. I look for common ground and perspective. I also look for inspiration in the form of kind acts executed quietly without a camera there to document the gesture.
I have one friend who hasn’t had hot water in months. In their home mornings begin with boiling hot water so they can bathe themselves. Shaving has become something of an art carefully plotted for economy of razor strokes choreographed in as short a time as possible. Meals are prepared mostly in a microwave or a rice cooker with humble supplies. Even so, they find ways to be creative and decadent when possible. A sense of humor and escapism (World of Warcraft) are what get them through the day.
Another friend was part of a group that discovered a young expectant mother in their social circle hadn’t eaten anything in days and there was no heat or electricity in that home. She had kept it all a secret from everyone. The circle of friends went about creating a plan to get food to that family of four (five if you count the unborn little girl) to help them with the next couple of months.
Prompted by a story on CNN about Craig’s List being used as a cry for help that was having some surprisingly responses of generosity, I began scouring the website for any evidence of such exchanges. I only found one post but it still haunts me. A woman in her forties lost her job, her home and eventually the car she was living out of in a horrible domino of misfortune. All she wanted was a cup of soup for the night. She had a plan and she had a sense of hope that she could get through it but she was without any family willing to help out or friends. I have no idea if she received help or not. She didn’t respond to my email, though I did write after the library she was using to access the internet closed.
It is an unusual time for many of us. I’ve never lived through anything like this that I remember. I have vague memories of my parents scraping by when I was younger (around 1982) but we were very carefully protected from any true understanding of what was going on. What I do know, intuitively, is that the key to getting through it all is remaining connected in a positive fashion to one another.
Generosity doesn’t need to be grandiose to be useful. It can be simple and powerfully uplifting.