Yesterday, as I was leaving the library, a little girl, about ten years old, must have taken note that my arms were bulging with books; she and her friend were in front of me, she walked over to the button, to open the doors automatically, and pressed it. I was genuinely touched; as she started to walk away, I told her thank you, and how very kind that was of her, I put forth my biggest smile, which was returned in kind, with a joyful “you are welcome”. With such a small act, she had brought me true joy and a perfect moment.
Daily we have so many opportunities to enrich each other’s lives; how many moments are squandered and how many buttons are pushed?
Perfect moments or even better perfect days seem harder to come by than they should, thus they do tend to stay with us, which is in and of itself a blessing. My parents taking my sisters and me to tour Cape Cod, including a stop at Hyannis Port, was such a lovely day, that I have not only shared it with you already, but have attempted to repeat the moment with various guest, in the past. Our most recent effort was met by incredibly inclement weather, which unfortunately led to only a few minutes with the famed Plymouth Rock; however, the rain did chase us inside, where I had a much prized “first”.
As an adult, I know that I have not visited The Pilgrim Hall Museum before, I am afraid I cannot vouch for having gone to it in my childhood. When traveling with a group, museums are usually a place where everyone ends of going their separate way, which I think best, as you get to read at your own pace and savor the exhibits, which impact or interest you the most. There are those moments you check in with each other, somewhere in the middle, and then go on until you find each other near the end, of your visit.
At Plymouth, I found myself standing near the entrance a few minutes before I saw anyone else from my party, thus I decided to photograph the stain glassed windows behind the welcome desk, and began a conversation with the woman, who had sold us our tickets. She had not necessarily been overly welcoming, when we arrived, but as I began to comment on the beauty of the windows, which were truly magnificent, she started to open up about the windows, which had once been on the outside of the museum, and to share with me that we were standing in the oldest continuous museum in the country; she then pointed out a painting, which had been hung in 1824, when the museum opened and been there since then, enlightened by a bit of restoration a few years back, where it was taken down, from its spot, but remained in the room.
I gathered our little group together to share my new found knowledge with them, thrilled that after all of the museums I have been to, I was now in the first in the United States.
In truth that bit of information neither enhanced the quality nor the significances of the museums exhibits historically, but her generosity of information most assuredly enriched my experience at the museum.
After we left, I could not help but wonder why the clerk had not welcomed us with that tidbit about the painting and the museum? Had I not engaged her, even if I later read about the museum and learned said information, it would not have been the same; why hold back? Had she repeated her welcome so often that she was simply tired or bored by the whole affair? Perhaps she was having a bad day or frustrated by the uniformed, like me? I do not know, but as we continued our drive, she stayed with me.
One of the many unanswered questions, in my life, which I often ponder, is why are we not nice to one another? When we can be kind, so often effortlessly, why do we instead choose to be callous or unpleasant?
As the trip continued, another perfect day began to draw to a close, I suggested one more stop, to our small group; I had little hope of finding the next museum open, given the hour of the day, but there was an outdoor sculpture I wanted to share with my friends, as well as the buildings role in popular culture. A particular congenial group, we finished our fabulous dinner and set out in search of the museum, in question.
After arriving and snapping the requisite photographs, used to document our journey, we stopped and took note of the stream of people who were mostly leaving the building, but there were a few approaching it, as well; thus we too began to make our way to the entrance, gingerly walking in, half waiting to be told to come back another day. Instead, we were greeted with the news that on this particular evening, the hours of operation were extended, and it was possible for us to venture inside.
Approaching the front desk, we noticed that the admission price would set us back a little over a hundred dollars, which given the amount of time we had to tour the galleries, felt prohibited and perhaps a bit foolish. As we debated our next move, the woman sitting at this front desk interrupted our discussion, apparently aware of our quandary: “It is only a donation tonight; you only need to make a donation.”
We continued chatting among ourselves, when she interrupted us again with a suggested amount, an amount much lower than any of us would have dared purpose. I looked at her, thinking really? She again must have read my mind, reiterating what she felt an appropriate donation. There were few words spoken among us, after that, other than agreeing with the museums employee, as one of my friends went forward, to make our suggested donation, I went over and thanked the woman for her kindness. I found myself quite touched by her magnanimity. Easily, she could have made us feel bad for not wanting to pay the full admission price, but instead, she spoke the words we felt uncomfortable to voice, and helped to usher us forward into a remarkably quick but satisfying tour of the fine museum, which on this particular evening was also celebrating poetry.
We left the museum thrilled that everything had worked out so beautifully, remarking that it had been that kind of day. Before heading back to our hotel, we drove by another landmark, and then went in search of ice-cream!
When I finally climbed into bed that evening, much after midnight, I ran through the day’s activities, contemplated how the week was going thus far, and then went back to thinking about the woman, at the last museum. She had been so congenial, almost going out of her way, to make sure that our group was able to enjoy the nights’ festivities.
In fact the doorman, who we ran into at the ice-cream parlor, remembered us, and said: Hey, you are staying at my hotel – he genuinely seemed happy to see us; and when we asked him for lunch suggestions, he told us where the tourist go, but then told us where he would go for great eats. The park ranger had let us join an earlier tour, than our tickets were stamped for, allowing us enough time to make it to yet another historical site, and while the desk clerk over sold how close the ice-cream parlor was, on a chilly night, she had not been wrong about the quality of their product nor the ambiance, which they offered. There had also been the docent, at the museum, who I had asked what was their ‘must see’ painting; whom not only answered my question, but decided there was too much going on, in the salon, for me to easily follow her directions, and thus walked me over to the Van Gough. It was hard to not feel awash in brotherly love.
I drifted off, thinking about all the truly kind strangers we had encountered all day; and how they had impacted the pleasure garnered from our visit. Also, I could not help but think about how nice my travel companions were, are, have always been, and what a true difference it makes to share our life with people who are kind, as opposed to those who are unkind.
Last night, as I was getting ready to post this article, I saw the results of the Indiana Primary, and they sent me to the showers, literally and figuratively.
Donald Trump’s and Bernie Sander’s won in Indiana, and Ted Cruz suspended his campaign, after his loss in said state, the headlines felt like a watershed moment, for the United States.
I have repeatedly been shocked by the personal attacks the candidates waged on one another, as well as the deeply disrespectable, often irrelevant, and repeatedly unsubstantiated comments made by the electorate regarding the men and women who sought to occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 2017.
Historically, I know we, as a nation, have survived campaigns with a fair share of mudslinging, but somehow the magnitude of the vitriol spewed during this season, feels needlessly venomous and degrading to both the individuals and parties which have been attacked and those who have volleyed the words.
The debates are not about ideas or issues, but rather about physical characteristics, personal achievements, and family members. What is happening to us, as a nation, as a people? Are we not better than this? Do we not want to be better than this?
I understand, I think we all understand that the American people are tired of business as usual, hate politicians, and want change – truly point taken. But I shudder to think about the choices being made, as we choose to cast civility aside for a vulgar and demeaning hashtag, which brings a second of raucous laughter, but will define our character forever.
Given the choice, and by all means we are still given a choice, would we not rather be the little girl, in the library? We do not have to be uncouth; nice is better than mean. That is all for now.