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  • Susie Csorsz Brown

Turn up the volume

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

I often write about kindness, and modeling for our kids, and what we can do to help our kids reach out more, and focus on 'we' rather than 'me'. I often write about empathy and sympathizing with others and learning to be compassionate. I often write about being a good citizen and doing things for the betterment of others regardless of benefit to self.

A friend writes an excellent blog about life in the city we currently live in. She does a much better job than me getting out there, and experiencing life in the city, meeting people, speaking the speak, but regardless, she is, like myself, a transplant. As such, she enjoys certain perks that might not necessarily be offered to Joe Schmo (ability to afford a larger or nicer house in a better location; utilities that keep on keeping on; a more reliable mode of transportation). However, we do all like trying to do the things we love to do, regardless of where we live. We try to keep hobbies up, routines, although many of these must be altered somewhat to fit the new setting. Expat life -- we all love and loathe it. Recently, she wrote about an experience she had. Right after running (for exercise, not because she was being chased), she came upon a gentleman searching through the trash near her home. Seeing her, red-faced, sweaty, and breathing hard, he searched in his pockets to find a half-fill bottle of water the offer her. Clearly, the man has less -- no home, looking through trash for who knows what -- but he sees someone to whom he can offer help. So he offers. Moreover, he takes such joy in the thought that he can help someone else. He has little to offer, but what he does have, he happily shares.

I can't tell you how much this touched my heart. It isn't just the gesture; it's the bigness of it. The kindness of it. Here we have a man who has almost literally nothing, but is still willing to give. There is a lesson in that: kindness feeds the soul. Sharing is good. I mean, think about it: We live with such excess. We have so.much.stuff. Perhaps those of us that move every two or three years have slightly less load than others might who are more stationary, but it is all still just stuff. Ask yourself this and honestly answer: What would you be willing to share? What would you be willing to joyfully part with, and not just because you've used up what you consider to be the useful part of (insert item here). Rather, you are willing to share it because it would be useful to someone else, or bring joy to someone else. That half bottle of water? Let me tell you a bit about water, my friends. While bottled water is not horribly expensive in the city where we live, it is not inexpensive, either. Doubtless, this man probably found that bottle a bit ago, and has repeatedly refilled it, but for him it is still a commodity. And there is not a public drinking fountain that I know of. Especially as temps are starting to rise, in a city surrounded by an ocean, you see water almost everywhere but there is a dearth of drinking water. This homeless man offering up his water bottle? Pretty freaking generous.

Aren't these sorts of exchanges one of the multitude of reasons why we are overseas anyway? To interact with people in such a basic manner, where you don't need to be fluent in the same language; rather one speaks to the other through actions, through kindness, and one heart speaks to another. Sure, sure, we have these same exchanges at home, too, but there, sometimes words can get in the way.

Our actions speak so much louder than our words. Speaking louder doesn't necessarily mean using more words or more volume. If you take the time to ask yourself what more you can do, what more you can give, I bet you can find an answer.

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