At the corner of Resnic Boulevard and Beech Street in Holyoke, Mass., there is a middle-aged male crossing guard who stands proudly at his post, donning a yellow vest and carrying a big red STOP sign.
For eight months now, I have seen this man every Monday through Friday on my way to work. And every morning, as I slow down at the yield sign to merge onto Beech Street, this kind older gentleman makes eye contact with me and smiles. It’s one of those big, genuine smiles…so big and generous in fact that at first, it made me slightly uncomfortable. I thought, ‘Why would he smile at me? He doesn’t even know me.‘
Over time, I realized that he doesn’t pick and choose at whom he smiles. He smiles at every passing car, selflessly offering what he can to the uncomfortable, the depressed, the angry, the sad, the ambivalent, the tired, the suspicious, and the happy. While he can’t control the mood they’re in, he can present them with this kind gift.
This is one of the greatest acts of generosity in life: giving to people without expecting anything in return. It may be news to the crossing guard, but this man is living yoga. As Christy Turlington says, “Yoga is about compassion and generosity towards others.”
Once again, the Universe has a wicked sense of humor: the crossing guard is a man who literally makes us STOP. He’s definitely made me stop and think about the fact that we should not wait for others to offer us something before we offer others an act of kindness. (And in case you were wondering: when I now drive past the crossing guard, I look him right in the eye and smile back.)