The 911day M&M's
EVERY cloud has a silver lining
Such a wonderful, wonderful thing happened on the train yesterday afternoon and by sharing it, maybe you will find the value of a PowerGem that has such enormous impact on a continually - let me repeat that - continually growing basis with ripples of no less than international implications and consequences. When Newton's Third of Physics ("For every action in this universe there is always an equal and opposite reaction.") carries your use of the PowerGem back to you, it will stop you and drop you in your tracks. Purely positive, and no rational mind has evidence with which to refute the stunning power of this shortcut.
Thrilled to be back in NY briefly, I did the same thing on the subway that I've done nearly two hundred times over the years.
As the train went over the bridge, I sat gazing at the NY skyline. Each and every time there is a form of physical slap at NOT seeing the primary reason for my interest in the skyline. The twin towers are just not there, and even after all this time it is simply not possible, feasible or reasonable. For any human who did not stand in front of or walk into either of the World Trade Center buildings, it is no mean task to even begin to imagine how gargantuan and granite-solid these buildings were. We're not talking about mountain of granite, much more a full-sized city of granite, larger and far more solid than any place on the planet that any of us had ever seen. It's a subject that cannot be talked to death, because every one of us alive on that day knows precisely where we were and what we were doing, just as those of us alive in 1963 have no hope of forgetting the intense shock of a President assassinated, a nation silenced for the first time in a couple of hundred years.
Each time flying over to land at JFK Airport, each time on the train, it's still heart-wrenching, so many people snuffed in a moment, like that horrible moment on Aug 6 when fifty thousand civilians were instaneously vaporized into shadows on walls and streets across Hiroshima, and then three days later tens of thousands gone with zero trace that they'd ever been on earth in a single moment's flash of atomic destruction. That wrenching of the heart has not lessened since 911day.
911day -- The More We Change The Less We Change
Imagine the surprise of gazing at the skyline and realizing, "My God, I cannot tell you with precision exactly where the two largest buildings in the world once stood." Just as you would surely be, I was shaken.
Seated a few feet away in a car that had barely a dozen people, I noticed that a young man in his mid-to-late twenties was sitting with a mockup of a popular magazine, Psychology Today. The header at the top teased an article titled to the effect of, "Your Brain - How Attitude Affects the Way You Heal." Underneath it, the front cover illustration was of a coyote howling at a full and bright moon, with the twin towers in the background.
After reflecting in those first few moments on the barely believable realization that I could not pinpoint the location of the towers, I turned to him and said, "Excuse me, can you tell me precisely where the twin towers were located?"
Clearly thinking I was an out-of-towner, he responded kindly and with energy, pointing out the two distinctive spires of the Woolworth Building and another one to it's near-right. He said, "Right there, right behind the Woolworth Building from where we are now. A train coming from the opposite direction briefly blocked our view, and he filled the few seconds with additional commentary. We again glimpsed the air space where the two towers should have been dominating the skyline as they had for me, and for all of us, for so many many years of our lives. A further conversation ensued.
During this chat as the train entered Manhattan proper, I noticed in the corner of my eye a young man with a stewardess style-tray hanging in front of him, and we both turned to listen as he issued his announcement. Dressed in the manner that most black teens in NY are seen to dress, baggy jeans, the name-brand not-quite-leather jacket, sports cap and the ubiquitous sneakers with the laces custom-looped and -tied.
His voice was just barely discernible over the clacking of the subway car. His words came forth without the truly bold tones of many people who address subway riders, particularly those who are begging.
"Ladies and Gentleman," he called out almost timidly, "I'm selling M and M's here to raise the money to put myself through college and to get things for my family out for the Christmas holidays." There may have been more, but his voice hardly drowned out the subway sounds. Despite the wariness that instantly springs up with those first two or three words at a black teenager in NY calling out to everybody on the train, a second look at his sneakers showed that they did not fall into what you might call the "arrogant" category. Yes, custom-laced, and clean, but not one of the brands that costs triple to five times its value simply because of celebrity greed. (A note of digression: When I see people wearing garments with someone else's name on it, I feel bad for the person wearing it because paying triple and more for the privilege of advertising someone else's efforts is a definitive sign of either reduced intelligence or self-image; self-purpose, if you will).
Turning to my conversation partner of the moment, I said, "Forgive me for interrupting, but I have to buy some of those M and M's. Any kid in NY willing to hustle, and get rejected by so many hundreds or thousands of people and who continues to hustle deserves my respect and my business." He cheerfully agreed with the sentiment.
When the young man came close, I looked at his wares, and, although disappointed that there were no peanut M and M's in his tray, I smiled and asked, "Hi, how much are they?" He looked straight at me and pleasantly said, "A dollar each."
As if someone else had suddenly taken control of my decision-making process, I looked around the subway car, taking a quick count, and, seeing ten people including myself, surprised the young man, my conversation partner, and certainly myself, by handing him a ten-dollar bill and saying, "How about one for everybody on the train?"
With a big grin exploding across his face, he happily walked around the car giving - or trying to give - the M and M's to each passenger. Some accepted, with thanks; a couple yelled additional thanks to me at my end of the car, as did the young man who held his Psychology Today mockup, and some declined. Walking back towards where our 911day conversation had been taking place, the young entrepeneur came over to me. I have to tell you it was very gratifying to see that, when he reached into his tray to give me the bags of candy that were "left over," those of the ten that hadn't been accepted, the kid didn't even take a rough count: he simply scooped in, grabbed a big double handful of candy bags, and as he offered them to me, I sniggled one bag out of the bunch and asked him, "How about you give a few away, maybe to young kids who look like they could use a bag of candy?" He chuckled in a manner that was affirmatively mature for a young man who couldn't have been more than 17, possibly 18 years of age, and said, "Oh, I do, I do that all the time." It was no feat to believe him, as an instant replay in the mental video we all operate in showed me again how he hadn't althought to count how many he was giving me.
"Bless you, sir," he smiled, in a manner that was positive, and without the religious overtones that would have detracted from it. He said it from the heart. No sense denying it: it was nice to hear.
As he walked away, and prepared to open the door to go into the next car I said, "You know, I admire you very much for your hustle. That's why I did that." Exchanging felicitations, he made it clear that he was committed to building a life. Most of us are capable of setting aside all social issues to respect someone who's bootstrapping their way up their personal ladder, most of all because it reminds us that we are each on a personal ladder. At any and every given time we have the choice of sustaining mediocrity or dropping all efforts or pursuing with superhuman zeal those things that bring us the most delight. Personally, it's impossible to resist anyone honestly busting their humps to get what they want, and doing it in an affirmative way.
Now we come to the best part of all this: how it affects you, and how to use it instantly. Correctly stated, there really should be no need to offer exegesis -- detailed explanation -- on how it affects you, and how you personally can, ought to, and need to, make use of the magical results that come from such actions. Nevertheless, there ARE some stubborn people who need to be dragged down to the water in order for them to drink it's sweet life-giving wonders. Please justify my additional and further efforts to explain by making use of the following:
1) There is little doubt - especially and even more so because the action was so spontaneous -- that at the very least, the candy vendor as well as the young man with the magazine cover mockup went out and told other people of a tiny event that showcased positive interaction between two people of diametrically different upbringing, even now at very different states and stages of life, including the racial difference.
It's my firm hope that my "magazine friend," as I imagine him to be, has forged a decision or two within himself to engage in such random acts of kindness and unification; that any and all of the people who saw and heard the interaction made a decision to mention it to someone else. Kindness and generosity are as contagious as smiles yawns, and laughter.
The tiniest ripples in a lake have such far-reaching effects. Just because we might not see the effect ourselves directly at any given time... well, frankly, it has no known effect on the energy of that ripple: it's on its way to fulfill whatever it's purpose is, because nothing is truly purposeless with the conceivable exception of weather forecasters.
Secondly, their relating the story to others helps to spread the "feel-good" seed that often leads to those listeners into taking more positive actions of decency, courtesy, and anything that promotes harmony, which, for those of you who are not aware of harmony, is a really wonderful feeling, something worth pursuing at least one or two percent of your time.
I returned to the conversation that we'd interrupted. Remarking to my momentary companion that, considering how much more money that kid could make hustling drugs, his actions become even MORE respectable. How great for other kids to see someone their own age earning an honest dollar, and slogging through the negatives just to get some "yesses." It's the ripple effect. You've thrown rocks into water and seen what happens; the same principle applies here.
Thirdly, it's just possible, and no less than possible, that the young man may well have been profoundly affected by the incident - whether or not there is a conscious realization or acknowledgement in the instant moment of such profundity.
Now that you yourself have put a couple of years under your belt, you know that events that occured throughout your childhood and teens, even up to twenty or twenty-one, ended up having effects on you that only hindsight affords a clear review of. I know that when I was in my teens, several people and organizations bent over backwards to help me out, and it stimulated a lifelong desire to help people who are having sincere trouble helping themselves. It wasn't my parents that had ever demonstrated particular kindness, to me or to others.
Even my grandfather's hiring of mostly black people in his dry cleaning plants, particularly during the depression years of the 1930's was due, or so he claimed, not because of social indignation but because he felt that time and time again, his black employees proved to be more reliable workers that he could trust and depend upon. Sure, he had that Jewish "soft spot" for blacks that so many Diaspora Jews experience, but business was business and it's a fool who ignores his positive experiences just because other people have racial problems racing inside their little heads.
The point here is that, in my sixteenth and seventeenth years on this planet, a number of large and formative events took place, and the kindness that was shown to be by strangers had nothing to do with money changing hands, or glory, or eat much earthly credit. These kindnesses were nothing more and nothing less than their embrace of decency because those who dispensed the decency were.... you guessed it... decent people.
On several occasions in my teens, there was the wonderful interactions with particularly smart people, and only an idiot could fail to experience positive benefits of encountering world-class experts or the guy down the street who tells you something that is huge. Great example comes to mind of a dentist at a motel who said it's erroneous to think that baldness is usually hereditary, that women rarely go bald because their brush their hair all time time. I made it my business to brush my hair regularly, and became one of only two males in my whole extended family not to go bald as a young man. Only a minute later he commented that "Love is sixty-forty. When you give sixty and hope for forty in return, it works out very well." Again, his words proved utterly prophetic, and accurate to a rare degree. How could I desribe his impact on me as being less than long-term and profound? He dropped two of the greatest PowerGems of all time on me in less than five minutes and it took seven years to get the next two PowerGems despite absorption of hundreds of thousands of pages of information.
Let's say that young teenager with the M and M's gets rich, as it's likely he will, considering the size of his self-discipline at an age when so many of his contemporaries are throwing words like "Nigger," "Shit," and "Bitch" with such facile disregard for the ripple effect of all our actions. That young man may well address groups of young blacks, encouraging and exhorting them to engage excellence in themselves. When that day comes you can bet your bottom dollar that some percentage of his audience, however small it is, will hear his call to their own greatness and to the fulfillment of their potential as human beings. Is it possible for me NOT to get at least one one-thousandth of one percent of the credit for whatever kindnesses those people end up passing on? At that rate, all I have to do is commit such acts a thousand times and I'll have one percent of something; something that cannot be quantified or measured in human scales; although it can be seen, tasted, heard, and felt; something that makes me feel this was a well-lived life.
The Longevity Zen of Health Is As Fast As You Wish
As with all PowerGems, it only takes seconds for you to put this into play, and just like all PowerGems, by the time you've done it a hundred times, you will be approaching if not actually arriving at, world-class excellence. Considering the thousands of skills you now possess, how exciting to realize that in every one of those thousands, you can get better, simply by doing it with more heart, more soul, more reality. Doing so today, making a conscious effort to push for a higher quality of effort in, let's say, a dozen of the hundreds of tasks you'll act upon today, are absolutely and positively guaranteed to accelerate your results both quantitatively and qualitatively, which means more and better results quickly if not immediately. If your brain does not grab this, then you're in that ninety to ninety-three percent of us who just don't get it, despite college educations or wealth or looks or connections.
For the rest of you capable of getting gallons from the ounce of power in that assurance that every action has an equal and opposite reaction you can see your guaranteed ROI (return of investment) that Newton's Third Law assures us all of experiencing, and Bob's yer uncle. The corny way to say it is, "That which we cast upon the waters is sure to return to us." Sounds so hyper-religious when in fact it's so hyper-scientific, because what goes up, must come down. What goes around, must come around. What random act of kindness and decency can and will YOU commit in the next eight to twelve hours of your life? If you have an ounce of commitment towards becoming a master, a millionaire, a champion or a billionaire, suspend your opinion and merely do this one hundred times and beyond. You will see the magnificent results, even if you manage to squeeze those hundred or more acts of decency and kindness into as little as a hundred days or even less. Save time normally wasted on the "whys" and "wherefores," focusing on one thing: do what masters and millionaires do, do the same things that champions and billionaires do, and you will soon begin getting the same results as our masters and millionaires, our champions and billionaires.
I'm so glad I took that subway ride, and hope to do so again if and when I return to New York.