My Recent Experience
I sat reading a book on a bench along a side path at Washington Square Park. A woman with a warm smile, carrying a portable typewriter and a table on which to place it, stopped to say hello. We exchanged pleasantries about the hats we each wore, and then she asked if she could write a poem for me.
My head was immediately filled with thought jumbles, all linked to feeling “less than.” How much money do I have on me to pay her? Can I even afford this today? (She had not mentioned money, and I did not ask.) I want to be alone – but do I really? Am I a bad person for saying no? The jumbles claimed the moment.
I begged off her offer saying I wanted to continue reading my book and told her I would welcome a poem when I saw her again. That was not an idle comment – I meant it. She said she understood, and then she told me what she does.
She asks people what makes them happy and writes a poem that builds on that to make them even happier.
The gift of happiness this poet shares has stayed with me. I deeply regret not saying yes to that conversation.
There are multiple poets who sit at parks near me with their portable typewriters, but she is the only woman I have seen – and, as far as I know, the only one whose mission is to extend happiness. I look for her every time I’m in the park and will continue to look until I find her.
When I reflect on this experience, I know I was caught up in feelings of lack and unable to think clearly. There is always an option to connect with another person in a meaningful way. It would have been a gift to both of us had I said yes.
I also could have simply had a conversation with her – two hatted women chatting on a park bench. I’m curious how she started doing this and why – and what makes her happy. Furthering the happiness of others would very possibly be her reply.
I question what else my lack-filled thought jumbles might have kept me from over time. Sometimes fears are real and need to be followed, but not always. I promise myself to be more discerning of the truth behind my concerns, to release the tangle of chatter, and allow my thoughts to flow freely. That would make me happy.