Having morals, values, being noble and principled should take you pretty far in life. Being generous, helping people when they need it, smiling is never bad, all good ways to be. Some of us are emotionally wired to be that way, very cool if you’re one of those amazing people. On the flip side, some of us aren’t, and that’s okay, but don’t we all try to do the best we can, if we can and treat everyone in our lives in the greatest possible way? It’s perhaps a fanciful notion, but it’s always better to hear a kind word from someone than a nasty one. Small gestures, reaching out when you know that someone needs help, a call, an email, a text, nothing wrong with an impromptu visit.
It’s easy to ponder over what to do sometimes, but if you feel in your heart that something is right and you know you have to do it, then aren’t you doing the right thing? We’re all flawed, we make mistakes occasionally, but sometimes we don’t make decisions because they’re easy; we make them because they’re right. Doing what you should for someone else is a good deed, but can’t it also help you? If you’re feeling down, struggling with whatever you have going on in your life, won’t reaching out and giving some time and thought to others make you feel a tiny bit happier inside? Even the smallest gesture can impact someone’s world in a way that you can perhaps never fully fathom. It can be a good world that we live in sometimes if we’re willing to try and make it a little better in our own way as often as we can.
A world that’s full of endless possibilities.
New York in November is an unforgiving mistress, the wind chill bites hard. It becomes even less so, if you’re out and about every day with a Red Sox beanie on. Insults come regularly, but it’s cool, this is the greatest city in the world, nothing can wipe the smile off of my face. I’ll happily discuss recent World Series wins with Yankees fans all day long. When you know a city well, chances are that you’ve done all of the touristy stuff. Trips become more about hanging out with friends that you don’t get to see very often, going for lunches and dinners, having copious amounts of late night drinks. We all have our favourite things to do, right? Watching the Jets at MetLife stick it to the Raiders. Eating PEI mussels with fra diavolo and drinking jalapeno margaritas at Banc on Third. Spending a lazy day whilst friends are working, reading newspapers and making an impressive dent in the beer list at Blind Tiger, before hitting John’s for the best pizza in the city. Drinking cold Patron on the rooftop whilst the Empire State Building dominates the background. There are worse ways to spend days and nights, but it’s easy to forget how blessed you can be to be able to do the things that you want to.
That lesson is rammed home in the space of less than quarter of an hour. An evening is spent alone at Zum Schneider in the East Village, not everyone can partake on a school night. Like a lot of people sitting on their own, I’m scrolling through my phone. A notification pops up from YouTube and I check it out. It’s a couple of young guys who travel the country tasting various foods at different price points and then give their verdict on which particular dish was the best value for money. Sounds like fun, pretty harmless, but not when they’re eating a hotdog in Seattle that costs $169. To be fair to the guys behind it, they give the profits to charity, but the overriding thought is, ‘Why aren’t people spending that money in a better way, to do better?’ I’m still shaking my head when a van with City Harvest written on it drives by. I’ve never heard of them so I check them out and it’s humbling. They’re the largest food rescue organisation in New York, dedicated to collecting fresh food that would otherwise go to waste, and delivering it, free of charge to hundreds of community food programs, food pantries and soup kitchens all across the five boroughs. Nearly 1.2 million New Yorkers face hunger every year, including one in five children and that’s fucking unacceptable. It’s okay to feel foolish now and again.
They need volunteers to help out and given how much I’ve enjoyed having fun in this city, it can’t hurt to give something back to it. It’s an absolute eye opener and there are tears more than once. To see people come together, to give up their time to help others isn’t something that’s always on your radar. It’s a cold, long night but at least I know that when it ends, my head will hit a pillow and I’ll have my pick of what to eat in the morning. That’s not always been the case, so it’s something that I’m blessed to have discovered. Trudging back to the hotel, shuffle does that thing it regularly does and throws up a perfect song, my smile is rueful. It was written to help support Newtown after the terrible school tragedy and it’s been adopted by more than one charitable organisation, truly a wonderful thing.
The lesson learned?
How unbelievably fortunate we are, how insignificant some of our problems are compared to millions of others. Sure, we perhaps realise them on some sort of level, but now and again, something comes along to make you appreciate the things you have and how lucky your life really is.
We are how we treat each other and nothing more.
It’s simply one neighbour helping another. 61 million pounds of fresh food would go to waste if City Harvest didn’t step in to help feed the people who need it most. Just $1 helps feed a family in need for a day, $36 helps feed 133 New Yorkers for a day, $52 helps feed 27 individuals for a week, $83 helps feed 3 families for a month, whilst $135 will feed a senior for more than a year. If you can spare some time to volunteer, I guarantee it’ll change your life.
Support them if you can at http://www.cityharvest.org