Go ahead — you first

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes…
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead — you first,” “I like your hat.”

Danusha Laméris, from “Small Kindnesses” (NY Times Magazine, September 19, 2019)

Photo: agent j loves nyc with Crowded Car


  1. A perfect post to wake up to. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other. I so believe that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. And in these small gestures there is something holy – and in noticing, there is grace.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. it’s all in the moments. do no harm and leave someone somehow a tiny bit better than when you crossed paths in that moment.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Yes. So beautiful. The ordinary grace of every moment.

    Liked by 2 people

    • exactly….you comment reminds me of:

      I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us. I can be received gladly or grudgingly, in big gulps or in tiny tastes, like a deer at the salt

      Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies, Some Thoughts on Faith (Anchor; February 15, 2000)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. We definitely need more of that. I think it starts at home.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, please!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderfully stated. I particularly like the “tribe and fire” comparison.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is such an anglophonic approach 😉
    This: For the waitress to call us honey ….. or ‘love’, or ‘darling’ – an every-day occurance in England – sooooo unusual for Swiss people. The first time the bus driver told me: Where can I take you today, love? I nearly had a small cardiac arrest. HOW DARE HE talking to me like that? – Within two days I LOVED it – and I miss sayings like that here in France or in Switzerland….
    I’m ALL for the brief exchanges, the quick, easy smiles, a twinkling of the eyes, an encouraging word. And a YAY to you for starting your Sunday in this fashion. Ta! (says the English – very economic with words after that friendly invitation to travel together in the bus!)

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Well said Kiki. That’s it.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yes so bloody true

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love those small gestures as well…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. So, so much here, in both the passage and the comments. I stepped into a crowded subway train in Boston about 15 years ago now, feeling tired and terribly frazzled. A gentleman across the way smiled at me, so I smiled back. As he got off the train, he leaned over and told me I had the most beautiful smile he had ever seen. I can picture that man’s face *to this day* and the thought of his words *still* makes me cry. To be seen and acknowledged, well, it’s everything….

    Liked by 2 people

  13. This is a lovely one, David. And how you “makes me think of…” and then you quote some passage you have read somewhere just blows me away, every single time.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. So far from tribe and fire, yet tribe and fire is still alive in our hearts.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I keep finding these small moments where I have an opportunity to do little stuff. Just a small nicety that seems to have a big impact. Most of our focus seems to be in the text of the page, but I think the REAL living is done in the margins. I give a lady a ride to work a few days a week. It saves her a bunch of money. But it seems like when I do the little things, and make someone feel important and noticed by showing a little courtesy that I have done a bigger work. I read something a few days ago. They call it “cupcaking”, the little niceties we do. It kind of pisses me off, to have them dismissed so lightly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Love this Steve. Reminds me of a passage I read to:

      Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes, “Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching to mend the part that is within our reach.” Together, with compassion for all, let us tie our shoes and walk in the direction of truth.

      ~Jack Kornfield


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