It’s Lent. I love Lent. Unlike New Years, when you reflect on your bad habits and vow to change them forever, Lent is only 40 days and 40 nights.
Plus I really like star charts, stamps, and bite-sized praise, so I get very excited about manageable goals that can be measured in stickers.
This year, since we moved from the Bronx, I decided to make compassion my Lenten resolution. Five years of working or living in some of NYC’s roughest neighborhoods sucked the stuff right out of me.
It’s funny, because a few people in Oregon have told me that New Yorkers are actually very nice. Which makes me wonder, How did I become so mean?
I should have learned from these nice New Yorkers. Instead, I’m badly in need of a reboot.
But I think there’s a simple explanation. New Yorkers are not so nice, per se. They just like to know things. So if you are wearing a wind breaker and have a map out, lots and lots of people will stop to help.You clearly don’t know something that they know (Where the Delacorte Theater is; How to understand Charlie Brown’s teacher who is driving the subway; Which way to the Magnolia Bakery from Sex in the City).
But if you’re in Target in the Bronx and want to find out the pricing on a vacuum, your friendly New York employee would rather check email on his Blackberry, and then insist that there’s no way to call a manager, because he doesn’t know about the vacuum. If you are persistent, he might say, “I see why no one wanted to help you in the first place.”
I spent so much time calling corporate headquarters to complain, or attending community meetings, or asking parents to stop swearing so loudly at the playground, that far from losing the flame that burns inside me, I let it grow into an inferno fueled by frying oil.
I don’t run tourists over with my stroller anymore. I have a car.
So please help me locate my compassion. I really, really need to find it. I only have 40 days and 40 nights.