Over the past two weeks, I have trekked down I-45 for two separate trips--one to College Station and the other to Houston. Seeing these bursts of color stoked my Texas pride. The Josh Abbott Band's anthem "My Texas" played in my head as I admired the simple beauty of a field blanketed in bluebonnets. My tires have tread that road too many times to count, and I couldn't help but think as I looked out my window, "I've never noticed that patch of field before. But with those bluebonnets, it's breathtaking." On that ribbon of road through the heart of Texas, we don't have mountains or an abundance of trees. But for a few weeks in April, a mundane stretch of highway becomes a masterpiece.
Last Sunday afternoon, I drove back to Dallas with Russ and Tara, two of my BFFs, after a wonderful weekend in Houston at the annual Abydos Literacy and Learning Conference. We basked in the glow of a successful road trip--equal parts educational, inspiring, and FUN. Russ is a master of the mix CD, and we had his genius musical kaleidoscope cranked up as we cruised down I-45. Of course, I marked this magical moment with a tweet: "Nothing better than Texas roads accented with wildfires, conversation with dear friends, & a kick-ass mix CD to serenade you.
And then Monday came. Boston. That's all that I need to write because you know the rest. When we were still reeling, another punch in the gut--this time much closer to home--West on Wednesday night. What a horrific week it has been in America.
My reader,/writer/English teacher mind thinks in terms of metaphor. Especially in times of confusion and chaos, my brain searches for connections that will help make some kind of sense of what's going on around me. As I was living my life this week (and honestly feeling guilty about it), I couldn't help but look at those patches of bluebonnets that dotted my route to and from school and think, "Those seeds have been waiting all year long for the perfect time to bloom. They are always there, underground, but now is the time for them to be seen." And that's when it hit me. We are like bluebonnets. We all have the seeds of kindness and compassion inside of us. All we have to do is choose to bloom.
I refuse to let the events of this past week rob me of my hope for humanity. When I do this, evil wins. I refuse to let evil win. Now more than ever, we need to show kindness to one another. To quote my beloved Wonder by RJ Palacio, NOW is the time to be "kinder than necessary." I have made a promise to: smile more. Hug more. Let sincere, heart-felt compliments drip from my lips. And I will not feel guilty about finding joy in the world around me. Some of you might cringe at my "Pollyanna" outlook on life. Yes, I am overly sentimental. I totally own it. I understand that this optimistic mentality does not come easily to all. But for me, I'm re-committing myself to kindness. And if we all do this, we can become that blanket of bluebonnets and change the often ugly landscape of our world into something truly beautiful.
Back to my musical genius of a friend...Russ put "Beautiful City" by Hunter Parrish on our mix CD for our Abydos trip. I had never heard it before, and I immediately fell in love with it. But I listened to it again this week...after Boston...after West. And I just cried in my car. Listen and you will understand why.
We can do this. But it's going to take all of us. A lonely sprig of bluebonnets in a field is noticeable, but the true beauty comes in the blanket effect. Let's cover our country with kindness and compassion.
NOW is the time.