I have been toying with adding pictures and names on my blog for a while, but had wondered if people would really want to be featured, focused upon? Turns out, some do, some really do and some don't. But the simple act of imagining that people might actually be buoyed by the recognition has given me a renewed sense of the project, helped me understand how important it is--both for those that want to see themselves and those who don't--that there is some acknowledgment of people's efforts.
Because I am energized about the idea anew, believe wholeheartedly in the power of the gold star sticker to make someone's moment, their day, their week, I am overwhelmed: shouldn't I give a gold star sticker to everyone I see? Who am I to choose? Why is it just me?
Sitting in temple the other day, a rare thing, I was delighted and amazed by the Rabbi's story of a little village whose citizens were told that someone among them was the Messiah.
"It could be any one of you that was brought here to save the world..." the story went.
The Rabbi told of how this powerful idea resonated throughout the village, how everyone started to treat everyone else with much more respect, how they started to treat even themselves with much more respect. The idea changed the village into a special place, far better than before, a place where people actually believed in one another's power to raise each other up and, because they believed it, they actually made it happen.
I was so excited to hear the story. It is, I believe, the same message I am trying to send with my project. Each and every one of us has within us the ability to raise up another, to raise up ourselves, if only we believed we had been granted such a power, if only we thought it possible.
I can tell you from my daily travels, in both words and the deed of disseminating the gold star, that it is entirely possible, relatively easy in fact if we put our mind to it. Yesterday alone, pulling myself out of a funk, I began to reach out, to yank myself headlong out of my shell by giving out a slew of gold stars.
I gave one to the man who sold me 10 records for $5, mostly Barbra Streisand. (I bought them nearly as much for the pictures of the ever-changing Babs as for the music.)
I gave one to the awesome writer/party planner behind the counter at S'Nice whose two favorites on the menu were the same as mine: the Curry Cauliflower Wrap (yum!) and the Quinoa Salad. ("No picture, please," he said.)
I gave one to the fabulous owner of Brooklyn Mercantile, Tamara, who was happy to engage in a conversation about the ills of technology, our passive-aggressive backlash to the idea of having to respond to people right away, and the pathetic Capitalist notion of planned obsolecence that has us paying top dollar for low quality. Her shop is a testament to her beliefs, filled as it is with high-quality items at relatively low prices and classes on how to make things and fix things you already own.
Strangely enough, on my way home, I ran into Janine, a seamstress who teaches at Brooklyn Mercantile, who is about to teach a class on how to take an existing item of clothing and turn it into other things, a dress into a skirt, a skirt into a bag, etc. Her young daughter, Orly, held in her hand an empty paper towel roll.
"Are you going to make something with that?" I asked. "I bet you're really creative, like your Mom, I bet you make lots of things..." I said.
I looked up and Janine was rolling her eyes. Under her breath she whispered in her beautiful English accent, "She knows how to make a mess..." Hilarious. I, of course, whipped out a gold star for both mother and child. They were on their way to the pet store to pick up a bowl for three new goldfish and, it turned out, I had one upstairs, long empty from housing a living thing. We have not had luck with fish and I don't plan on having any tear-filled toilet-flushing ceremonies anytime soon.
When Janine left with the fishbowl, free of charge, having offered me a discount on much-needed arm covers for my couch, I felt a million times better than I had in the morning. Here, right around me, was a community, one in which I was fully participating, in large part because I do believe that any one of us could be the one to help, that we all are, in fact, able to help one another.