Change in the air

Seemingly overnight, it feels like fall has arrived. There is a clean, crisp, cool quality to the air. Yesterday, as I walked through the streets of Philadelphia, my ears were invigorated by the loud, midday sounds of the city. I was on my way to a different part of town and there were far more sirens, alarms, horns, cars rushing by, and trucks backing up – beep, beep, beep…

The further I walked from home the sharper the sounds became. By far, the most startling things I heard yesterday were the words coming from people around me. Harsh, angry shouting, impatient, vulgar words came streaming into my ears. I passed people on the sidewalk, on street corners, in taxis, cars and on bicycles and I could FEEL their frustration, their anger. The air was suddenly different…hot, not in temperature but in angry intensity. It would have been easy to absorb that negative energy and pass it along. But I wanted to calm the words–I wanted to change the mood. To ward off the wave of discontent around me, I made a choice to breathe more deeply. I made a choice to be patient, polite and show a peaceful face to people on the street. When speaking with a sales associate in a store along the way, I smiled and thanked her for her help. I held doors open for people and let others go first.

My simple mission during my walk home was to change the air around me. Not the air that we breathe, but rather to change an angry torrent of words into a breeze of peace and kindness.

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