“It is extraordinary how extraordinary the ordinary person is.” ~ George F. Will
I recently came across a Country song that I never heard before and I am completely blown away! I write so frequently about how one life no matter how “ordinary,” can have an amazing, positive effect on many, many other lives. And that’s exactly the message this song conveys. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful message.
Most people that I come across, that I know of, can’t stand Country music. But even if you are one of those who find it very distasteful, you may still love the beautiful message of this song.
“Life’s like a chain – sometimes it breaks
We all need a hand when we fall from grace
It could be someone walking down the street
A stranger on a bus
A little kid on his way to school
Or any one of us
We all got a little superman ready to take flight
And save a life, oh save a life
Take a look around and you’ll see ordinary angels” ~ Craig Morgan
A while ago I wrote a post about “ordinary” people who inspire me, people who aren’t celebrities(celebrities can be very inspiring too but we don’t have to be to have a positive effect on someone.) or ones who are well known. They don’t necessarily have extravagant jobs and lots of money or any special skills other than compassion, caring, and the courage to reach out to others in some way. They don’t necessarily have the resources to reach people at great magnitudes the way famous people do. But they can touch at least one life each day. They help people just by being themselves. That was before I heard this song. And this song inspires me to make another list. Here is my list of “ordinary angels,” mostly strangers whose lives have touched mine in some way.
1.) The man who came to the store where I work and paid for the two people in line in back of him who he did not know and told them to get whatever they want, no matter how much it costs. Then he gave me an eighteen dollar tip, which is more than the cost of all his stuff! The people in back of him insisted that he doesn’t pay for their stuff and he said he wanted to.
“We’re all in this together” he said.
I was inspired by his message more than the big tip! We ARE all in this together. Let’s reach out to one another, encourage each other, and build each other up.
2.) The young man who gave me his seat on a bus – one day after a therapy appointment I was standing on a crowded bus holding a bag of books and this young man without asking just got up and walked to the front and told me I can have his seat and he stood the rest of the way. It helped me so much!! I am still so thankful.
3.) the two men who (literally) saved my life at a bus stop – I was (stupidly) texting on my phone while crossing the bus terminal and I walked in front of the 17 bus and almost got hit, two men who did not know me or each other, yelled and one pushed me and the other pulled me. They risked their own lives to save me, a stranger. They had no idea who I am, had no idea how I live, what my views on anything are, what I may have done in this life and they did not care. All they cared about was saving me.
4.) The homeless man who saw me trudging up the street like trying to walk through Quicksand or like trying to walk up the stairs in that Fred Krueger movie, going to class, when I was in college. I was depressed & suicidal and he had no idea what was going on in my head but he knew something unpleasant was going on. He yelled out to me, “Smile little lady, it gets better.” and he had the brightest, most beautiful smile on his face, I couldn’t help but smile, myself! 😀 His words still carry me today.
Smile little lady, it gets better. 😀
It does get better.
5.) the University professor at Temple University in back of me in line, who smiled and talked to me in her warm, soothing voice when we were waiting in line. She was almost late for her class and was in line to buy a snack and so was I. I wasn’t her student but I was almost late for a different class. She had the most beautiful smile and warmest voice. She wanted to get out of line and go to the soda box to get a drink and asked me if I would hold her place. When she came back I let her get in front of me so she wouldn’t be as late. I was depressed and suicidal again. Back then I almost always was. I found her presence to be so comforting and warm. And that encounter lifted me. And I cherish that memory. I even wrote a poem about it many years later! People inspire me to write.
6.) the man who helped me in Center City Philadelphia when I was lost. I couldn’t find my way back home, had no idea what bus to take or where to get it. I must have looked as lost as I felt. A man came out of nowhere and asked if I was lost and where I was trying to go. I told him and he told me exactly where to go and what bust to get on. I found my way back home. Love will always be my guide.
7.) the sweet girl in Center City who gave me a hug out of nowhere just because she wanted to bring joy to anyone she could. I never saw her before that day or any day after.
8.) the stranger who put his umbrella over me in the midst of a heavy rain shower. I was waiting for a bus after my therapy appointment, to come home and a man also waiting for the bus let me stand under his umbrella with him. He asked if I work around there and I said no I go to therapy appointments there. He asked what for and asked if I’m stressed. I said not necessarily “stressed” I have a chronic depressive disorder and suicidal tendencies, a genetic condition or biochemical imbalance or whatever. I waited for him to step away in shock and horror and disgust like some others have done when I told them. But instead, he asked about it and empathized, and he told me his sister also has depression and he tries to be as understanding as possible.
9.) the two women who talked to me walking up the street together – I was walking to a counseling center for an appointment and on the way there I met two women holding hands, walking up the same street with me. They had a special warmth about them, a welcoming, inviting glow, I thought they seemed like people I would like to know or talk to and then the one turned around and said hello. I said hello and the other one turned to greet me. They asked where I was going and I told them and it turned out they were patients at the same place for depression like me! But they weren’t going there then. We talked for a while and they told me they are lovers and have a mostly great relationship but get into arguments because the one girl was kind of overly jealous. And the one wanted to hang out with her ex girlfriend and the other was very uncomfortable with that situation. But they were working on their problems together. They told me their fears, their loves, their sorrow, and joy. Their happiness. I love how open and honest they were. I’m very open too but some people I wouldn’t tell stuff to directly because they don’t seem as easy to talk to but these two women were so open and receptive and what a coincidence how I met them, nowhere near the clinic but they were patients there! We knew the same people and had similar experiences! They were very easy to talk to and I told them my own story with depression.
10.) the lady who made sure no one sat in a puddle on a seat on a bus – I was sitting on a bus years ago and a lady closer to the front intentionally sat near a seat with a puddle in it so she would be able to tell every person who was about to sit in it that it’s wet! And many people kept getting ready to sit in it! She had to remain constantly alert and couldn’t even sit back all the way in her seat so that she could constantly, quickly caution people! I have seen puddles and gum on seats before and most people walk right by not thinking to even sit close just to warn people. What a very thoughtful and caring person! And so many people and their pants were saved! Doesn’t this just inspire you so deeply to be more thoughtful?!
11.) the sweet & friendly girl at an event at a Buddhist center who talked to me. We have very similar interests and she showed genuine interest in me and my opinions. She’s going to be a nurse and help lots of people! I loved talking to her. I only ever met her once but the connection was deep.
12.) the friendly Philadelphia police detective who said I did a great job and expressed gratitude for me “helping” after someone tried to steal money at work years ago. I couldn’t identify the person but the man was so thankful anyway and praised me for trying. He could have been frustrated and stressed but he was friendly and uplifting. He did more than just his job, he reached out to be positive and uplifting when he did not have to.
13.) the customer who saw me outside of work and told me I’m very friendly and that him and his girlfriend are always pleased to see me at work. They are both very sweet and kind and caring.
14.) The man who told me I have beautiful hair – some years ago I was filling out one of those silly and fun online surveys and one question was “what thing do you get the least compliments on?” mine is my hair. I love my beautiful hair but I don’t get many compliments on it by others(I’m often told that it’s super long but not always sure if it’s exactly a compliment or just an observation). My sister always did get compliments when it’s not dyed because she has bright orange hair, naturally, when it’s not dyed another color. The very next day when I was on a bus, a man who was walking out the doors told me I have very beautiful hair. It wasn’t even fixed or brushed. And recently in dunkin donuts another man came up to me while I was in line and told me I have very beautiful, long hair then he walked away and as I was walking out, he said goodbye. I love genuine compliments that are not intended to get something in return.
15.) the girl I met randomly in college. I was sitting outside on campus reading a philosophy book when this girl sat next to me like she knew me. I wanted to say hello but was too shy so I just kept on reading and she said the name of my book and the author without even being able to see it. She recognized the appearance of the book! Another philosophy phreak!
What are the chances?! 😀
She told me her name, Stephanie, she was going to law school to be a criminal defense attorney and loved philosophy like me! We had a long, intriguing discussion about all the ancient and modern philosophers, philosophy of law, logic,ethics, and about our other interests. Her boyfriend was going away for the military and she was scared for him and sad he was leaving but also proud. I was so happy to have a friend in that moment, we connected so well, so genuinely, an instant soul sister. I never saw her again but my memory uplifts me to this day.
16.) the doctor who held my hand after surgery – many years ago I had very painful emergency surgery and medical procedure on my kidney & bladder when it almost ruptured. I was very sickly and in excruciating pain. After surgery, I was scared because I opened my eyes but couldn’t see very well. I had no idea that is normal after just waking up after surgery as I have never had surgery before then or knew anything about it. All the doctors and nurses were very warm and caring. The one doctor came over and I told her I couldn’t see and she held my hand and assured me it would get better and I would recover well. She did more than just her job, she expressed compassion, genuine concern, and empathy. Now when I think back to that ordeal, I have warm memories.
17.) the little boy, five years old, who told me I’m beautiful one night at work. A young mom who comes with her little boys told me her older son has a little crush on me and was too afraid to tell me I’m pretty. And she told him every girl loves to be told she’s beautiful and I said yup that’s so true! And then the younger boy said “you are so beautiful!” I was so flattered. Especially because I did not feel the most beautiful that night! I was functioning with lack of sleep, ratty hair, no makeup…
And his compliment was so genuine. After that, I really did feel so beautiful, even with the dark circles under my eyes and all! When a child tells you you’re beautiful, you are beautiful! Lol
18.) the man driving by in a car who saw a random stranger, another man, putting up a ladder and stopped his car to say “yo buddy, you need help?” I just witnessed this; I wasn’t involved but it warmed me just the same.
19.) Michelle, Melissa, Lamont, Stephen, Patricia, Frank, Holly, Deborah, Aquanetta, Jennifer, Chris, Latrina, Kelly, Georgia, Gina, and all the others I knew when I had to stay in a hospital for a while for psychotic depression and suicidal contemplation. It wouldn’t be the same without those friends who helped me see it through. All strangers who helped each other bear the burden of mental illness. We all connected in a deep way, all of us struggling and understanding each other better than anyone else ever could. We suffered in our own separate worlds, imprisoned in our own secret hell but we were able to reach out to one another and let each other into that hell, knowing each other’s pain intimately. I never saw them again but I carry them in my heart.
20.) Mr. O, the psychiatric technician who told us of his own struggle with substance addiction and his recovery and how it inspires him everyday to help others. He told us that we all have an inner sun, to find it and let it shine through. That we can always choose how to handle things and react and work on our attitude even when it hurts. He even mentioned one of my other favorite Country songs, “The Gambler,” sung by Kenny Rogers, which is about choosing our attitude and empowering ourselves.
21.) my friend, Johnathan – he’s not a stranger. I knew him for years. He’s the most selfless person I have ever known. He gives others his last dollar always, even when he’s out of money and food for himself. He goes out of his way to help strangers, he buys food for whole families if he sees them struggling. He does (construction) work for people even if they can’t pay him. He doesn’t always know when he will get paid next but it doesn’t stop him, he will give every last dollar of his to a friend, a family member, a stranger, even an enemy. I have seen him giving money to and doing free work for people who are very unkind to him, very ungrateful, even destructively criticize him. He does this out of the goodness of his heart. He genuinely wants everyone to be happy. Everyone. He is a great dad and does whatever he can to help his kids whenever they need something, even the young adult ones. He helps animals in need if he sees them. He is extremely understanding and caring and compassionate. He’s big and strong and defends people in need. His generosity is boundless and indescribable. He just gives, gives, gives. Love, money, work, anything he has to give.
22.) the group of police officers who came to my work – I don’t charge police officers of any kind at work. They can get whatever they want for nothing. But they usually insist on paying and giving me tips. One day a group of them came and gave me a very big tip. They were very friendly and so generous. I always appreciate the friendliness and kindness more than the money itself. They had the opportunity to get whatever they wanted for nothing but they paid and gave me a generous tip. And were kind and friendly. I appreciate that and all the work they do, the risks they take with their lives and also the risk of being destructively criticized by people who do not appreciate the work they do for us and judge them all by the unjust actions of a few, the dangerous work and the boring paperwork they must endure. They risk being perceived negatively and their mistakes and flaws are magnified because of the kind of work they do. Everyone probably makes mistakes but for people of certain jobs, they stand out more. I make mistakes at work but because the job is trivial, it won’t stand out as much even though I’m no morally better. I have much appreciation & deep gratitude for all good officers/detectives/police…
23.) The employee at Dunkin Donuts who gave me a senior discount when I did not have enough money for something after I ordered it. She could have said forget about it and let me go with nothing but she was kind enough to consider me an old person for the day and let me still have my drink! 😀
24.) the interviewer who rejected me for the job I applied to – I went on a job interview in the summer. The interviewer thought that I was qualified and experienced enough to give me a chance for an interview. After the interview process of a few potential employees, she e-mailed me to tell me she selected the person she thought was most qualified (not me 😦 lol) and she warmly thanked me for my interest and encouraged me to keep applying for jobs. I was surprised and pleased that she cared and took the time out of her very busy schedule to e mail those she interviewed who were not selected, and that she encouraged me to keep trying, to not give up. I wrote back thanking her for the chance and her message and she replied with well wishes to me for the present and the future! How sweet! I never encountered employers who are that involved or caring enough to write not one but two messages to the person they rejected and encouraging them not to give up! They usually just seem to ignore us. This shows how caring she is and not just all out for herself and her department. Not that all employers who ignore people are selfish or not caring, they just have so much to do, but writing a friendly message is evidence of true compassion.
25.) the college boy who complimented me after a presentation I gave to the class on a very complex, confusing philosophy issue involving logic. In college, many years ago for one of my philosophy classes we had to write difficult papers, just like for most Phil. Classes I took. One paper I wrote, when the professor gave it back, it had A+ written on it! A is the best grade but he loved it so much he put a + on it! And not only that but he asked me to present it to the whole class! It’s to this day one of my most proudest accomplishments! It was very difficult to write, it took much thought and understanding. I don’t have social anxiety or fear of public speaking but I am very shy and this makes me forget stuff, sometimes, when I’m talking to people I don’t know well. When I would present stuff to class or professors, I would often feel like I have to get it perfect or like I will embarrass myself so it’s not always easy to talk in front of many people I don’t know well. And this is a very complex topic. So I happily agreed to present it but I was concerned I would forget how to explain it. It’s a difficult topic anyway and along with being shy and the pressure to not mess up in front of all those people, concerned me but I did very well anyway and a young man in class with me came up and told me how good I did. His compliment was everything to me and still is.
26.) the very friendly lady I met walking up the street. My mom, sister, and me were walking up the street in cold weather but my mom was hot and not wearing a coat and a very friendly lady came up and talked to us like she knew us forever even though we never saw her before. I love people like that! She was wearing a Winter coat and hat and said she wished she could be like my mom and not have to wear all that heavy clothing and she complimented my mom and she was just so sweet and friendly. It warmed me in the bitter cold. People who talk to strangers like they’re BFF’s always uplift & inspire me!
27.) the strangers who wrote a note about feeding stray cats. The bar on the corner where I live used to have a bowl of food and a small tent made for the stray cats to seek shelter in the back. Someone did not like it and put a note up asking them to stop attracting cats. But the cats were there anyway. It’s just that now they had food and shelter. Then later a person wrote on that same note responding to the first person saying the cats need to eat and a place to go. Then later another person responded suggesting to keep feeding them or take them to a shelter so they can find furever homes. All these strangers communicated to each other without seeing each other, just writing and signing their names to express compassion for homeless animals. Eventually the cats were taken to a no kill shelter by my kind neighbors, so they can finally get the furever homes & family love they deserve.
28.) the girl I met at a carnival when we were twelve years old. My mom and dad took my sister and me to a carnival but my sister was too young for the rides so I had to go on them alone but another young girl came over to me and asked me to go on them with her. We were best friends for the day.
29.) the girl in middle school who stood up for me when another girl said I had ugly hair. She told her my hair is not ugly; it’s beautiful. I still feel the compliment today.
30.) my psychology professor in college who e -mailed me to ask if everything is ok when I stopped coming to class all of a sudden. He did not take attendance but he noticed I was missing and cared. I was involuntarily hospitalized for depression and suicide contemplation at the end of that semester. I responded and told him what happened and he was extremely compassionate and told me he would make the final exam as easy as possible for me. I was so thankful and told him so. Then later he wrote back telling me to forget about the final exam that all my exams and class assignments were very good and he would just base my final grade on those. Words cannot express my gratitude for his kindness, compassion, concern, and understanding.
I still feel it now. Like a wrapped in a warm blanket.
31.) Larry the love poet – there’s a man named Larry I happen to see occasionally just walking up a street, in stores, all around. I don’t know him well, I just met him outside one day, but he always stops to talk to me. He’s a poet who is crazy for love. He writes beautiful love poems and recites them for me. He remembers all the words off the top of his head! I saw him in dunkin donuts and he got out of line to hold the door for me because my hands were full!
“When you’re in that dark place and you need that embrace
You know love is never too far away
It could be a waitress at a coffee shop you never saw before
A soldier that’s just coming home from fighting in the war
We all got a little superman ready to take flight
And save a life, oh save a life
Take a look around and you’ll see ordinary angels”
So here is my list of ordinary angels. And these are just some of them. There are many, many more.
Ordinary angels are everywhere. Loving, helpful, beautiful people, random acts of kindness… are not rare…but they are often overlooked and forgotten about in the midst of the routine busyness, stress, negativity…the mundane hassles, obligations, and stresses of everyday life that many/most of us experience at some points.
And we definitely need more love, compassion, and kindness in the world. There can never be too much. Sometimes we let fear stop us so we don’t reach out, or feelings of inadequacy, like maybe a more qualified person will come along to help that person in need so we should just go our own way, or we get too wrapped up in our own lives and situations we don’t think or care to stop to help another or we have bitter feelings against people or the world, or we’re too shy or just oblivious to all the chances and the importance to help out….but all this can be overcome so we can reach out in love.
No matter who you are, there is someone, somewhere who needs you and can benefit by your touch. Maybe someone across the world or right next door or in the very same room.
Something as simple as a friendly hello, a loving smile, or warm touch, letting someone else go first, have the last of something even if you want it, holding a door for someone not out of a feeling of obligation but genuine desire to make something easier for someone else, feeding stray cats, squirrels, or birds, who are hungry, adopting or fostering an animal, an uplifting comment or message on social media, sending an anonymous package during the holiday season to a person you know, to uplift that person, an anonymous or not anonymous letter to uplift someone you know is struggling in some way…all have the potential to brighten someone’s life. And as you see, these warm memories are everlasting. All these years later I remember all these lives and the many more who touched my life for the better. I carry them in my heart always.
I believe most people are basically good and caring but some people go above and beyond. Like these people above. They are full of love, compassion, courage, and life.
They have various jobs but they help in ordinary contexts irrespective of their jobs. They don’t need a specific paid job or volunteer job or a job at all to go the extra mile and help out in some way.
They can be financially struggling, homeless, financially rich, a doctor or celebrity, a police officer, a child, a very old person, a person with a disability of any kind…
They help & inspire because of who they are, not because of their job. Their jobs just provide opportunities for helping.
But there are opportunities all around us.
We can all be like this.
People with jobs where they always have to help people and famous or well known people can be ordinary angels too, helping people in “ordinary” contexts just like anyone else can, the whole point of the message is no matter who or what we are, or how much or very little we have, we can help someone in need or just brighten someone’s day.
“A soldier that’s just coming home from fighting in the war…”
Soldiers help people at work but they can also help in more simple, ordinary ways outside of work.
I am not the only one blessed with ordinary angels. They are everywhere. We all have the potential to be an ordinary angel. Like the song says.
“…or any one of us.”
I choose to acknowledge and list them and I encourage you to do the same. Whether it’s a public post like this one or in a journal you never show anyone.
You will have the warm memories to think about as long as you live.
Not only does it honor them even if they will never see it, it gets us in the habit of seeing them, acknowledging them, feeling immense gratitude for them. And allowing them to inspire and motivate us to pay it forward and be someone else’s ordinary angel.
Kindness has a ripple effect and love can permeate the world.
Whenever we reach out to make the world or someone’s life a little bit better, we reach out in Love.
Who are your ordinary angels?
When have you been someone else’s ordinary angel? The opportunities are infinite.
Go be someone’s Earth angel today.
All you need is your beautiful, loving heart.
“I’ve seen and met angels wearing the disguise of ordinary people living ordinary lives.” ~Tracy Chapman
Mobile link to YouTube video for the song, “Ordinary Angels”:
Xoxo Kim 😀