Ya! Ya! Oh My God!

Something simple happened a couple of days ago, that upon hindsight, seems more significant than not. I was seated at a coffeeshop eating with a friend. Some distance ahead was a table with three or four schoolgirls. I happened to look in their direction when they stood to leave. To my surprise, I saw a handphone atop a wallet left on the table. As I didn’t know how to address the group and since they were not exactly within earshot, I rushed to pick up the items, before dashing after them. By that time, they were about 30 metres away already, and I had to weave my way through the dinner crowd. When I caught up, I tapped the shoulder of the one closest, and asked, ‘Does this (these) belong to one of you?’ That girl exclaimed, ‘Ya, ya! Oh my God!’ (But what has any imagined deity got to do with this?) Right after passing the items back, I turned and rushed back to eat. Upon return, my friend asked, ‘Did they thank you?’ I replied, ‘I dunno.’ Even if she wanted to, I didn’t give her a chance.

It struck me later that I wasn’t doing  a thankless job, simply because I wasn’t expecting thanks – to the extent that I didn’t even look at the girl’s face for any expression of gratitude, much more to say a word of thanks. I don’t even remember how she looked like. As an interesting symmetry of the suddenness of the event, I don’t think she registered how I looked like either. I was surprised at my spontaneity and its unconditional nature, though it was really just a small favour. But there is still much stuff to improve. For instance, during my rushing through the crowd, I brushed someone lightly on the shoulder, but was too anxious and impatient to get ahead to pause to apologise. It made me think… there must really be countless people (that we don’t register well), whom we need to apologise to due to our unmindfulness, just as there must be countless people (that we also don’t register) that we need to thank.

Related Articles:

Invisible Bodhisattvas & Maras
Gratitude to Who?

3 thoughts on “Ya! Ya! Oh My God!

  1. For countless people (that we also don’t register) that we need to thank —- pay it forward 🙂

    For countless people (that we don’t register well), whom we need to apologise to due to our unmindfulness — try not to make the same mistake again or be more forgiving if such things ever happen to us 🙂

  2. Yes, the only way to express gratitude for unconditional kindness by strangers is to express unconditional kindness to strangers. (Of course, towards non-strangers too.) 😉

  3. Uncle Robert who have heart problem was a 70+ old volunteer. He taught me something very valuable without words. He befriended my terminally ill mom few weeks before her death and I got to meet him a few times.

    He is a devoted Christian, but read Buddhism, not for himself but to understand those Buddhist terminally ill patients and use that to encourage them. Very open minded.

    In the process, he demonstrated loving kindness, he put the terminally ill patients in the first place and followed through, from start to the end, hospital visit, present at the wake and funeral, and even he had problem walking because of his heart.

    Compare to those Buddhist friends that my mother could have met during pureland chanting, who pop out from no where, direct my mom do this and that and disappeared after leaving a mess (I am not saying all Buddhists like this, there are many good one too), Uncle Robert, shows what is loving-care, he put what he learnt from his religion/life into good action.

    He inspired me. I had a not-close Christian ex-colleague who died of cancer at 30+ last year, I visited her few times during her hospitalization, be at her wake and funeral. Why did I do that even I have so much things to handle and have thoughts of not going at all. It is Uncle Robert’s action that left an impact on me to pay it forwards …

    Buddhism teaches about compassion, but Uncle Robert is the real life example, how to be compassionate, – show me an ordinary person can do it and this is one of the way … and I learnt indirectly (not from books or words but action in this case) because I am touched!

    I wish there are more people like Uncle Robert in our society, it does make a difference (not only loving-kindness but also religions harmony) …

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