All it Takes is an Impulse

| January 20, 2014 | 2 Comments

For as long as I can think, I have been a being of impulse. Routine and too detailed planning always made me uncomfortable, as if being caught in some sort of invisible jail that doesn’t allow for the really important things to happen. When I travel, I love most to have a few set meetings and keep the majority of time open to spontaneously do whatever comes up. Like striking up a conversation in a Cafe with a complete stranger and see the places he recommends.

The word “impulse” etymologically goes back to the past participle of the latin “impellere”, meaning “stimulus in the mind arising from some state or feeling”, first recorded around the 1640s.

Today, I got feedback on an impulsive-deed going back several months, that I had already forgotten. But that “stimulus in the mind” that I have obviously caused in a person’s head a few months ago, is bearing fruits.

It is very common in Puerto Rico, that at traffic lights you can buy newspapers in the morning, sold by people risking their wellbeing in the endless traffic, for selling you two newspapers for a dollar (or handing you in one of the free ones).

Today, I saw a familiar face handing out one of the free newspapers at a traffic light. I waved him over as if I was interested in the newspaper and took one and when he saw me, his eyes lightened up and he screamed out “it is you… I don’t know how to thank you!” – and we’ve spoken a bit, until the green light and honking of the cars behind me, made me continue.

A few months ago, I stopped at such a traffic light and saw the same person in different circumstances. He was wearing a t-shirt of one of those organizations, giving a chance to drug addicts who want to make a turnaround in their life. Usually they sell trash bags or cakes for a dollar and most people tend to ignore them. Something I find rather weird. Society, or, the ones “well-off” in their cars, tend to ignore those who say “I made a mistake, I want to improve” and seem to prefer to hand out some cents to people just begging for money. But that’s a different story.

So this guy shows me some sort of cake through the window and I start talking to him without intention to buy the cake but just wanted to give him a few dollars. But when reaching into my pocket, I pulled out a whole bundle of around $200. Now that’s when impulse comes into play. I remember that I looked at him and asked him “are you really into changing your life?” – when he said “yes”, I replied “I’ll give you what I found in my pocket, I expect nothing from you other than that you really try your best in moving ahead”, and handed him the entire bundle I held in my hand.
I left him speechless and also didn’t take the cake – plus, it was time to move on with the flowing traffic and I soon forgot about the incident.

Today, the man who recognized me from that time, was so happy to see me again and say “thank you”, that tears were running down his cheeks, while he said “thank you, thank you, thank you, you have changed my life with what you did at the time. You did something I never thought was possible and though not all my problems have been solved, for the first time in my life I started seeing life entirely different and made some good choices. It’s as if I’ve been seeing life more clearly or for the first time.”

Within a week of our first encounter, he had found a job, shortly thereafter a second one and said that since then he had been tirelessly at work every day to bring his life back on track and feels he has a chance.

There was no chance to chat a bit more and I disappeared into the flow of traffic. But I did so with simply feeling gratitude and noticed a small tear running down my left cheek. I’m positive, it was not the amount of money that made the difference for him. But the act. The act of receiving a helping hand without any expectations in return. Pretty much like life: now put in your very best and things will turn around for you!

An impulse. A stimulus in someone’s mind. Sometimes that is all it takes. And everybody can do it.

To my friends in Puerto Rico, please do understand this as an impulse. An impulse that we, the good people, which we all are, can still rescue the island! If we all stand together and give a little bit of our time, money, thought and action, we can free ourselves from the paralyzing political powers, which make any progress impossible and create a solution and a positive outlook for the island. All it takes is seeing things differently and acting upon it.

In this spirit, let me close with a few quotes to honor Martin Luther King today:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

“The time is always right to do the right thing.”

“Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.”

“We must learn to live together as brothers,or we will perish together as fools”

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Category: Current Affairs, Self-Discovery

  • Lucas

    Muito bom, sou do Brasil e quero mudanças

  • Donna Thompson

    This story is uplifting, it’s nice to know there are caring people in this world!