12 April 2012

Give a Stranger a Smile – Small Acts of Kindness (or: on becoming a runner)

She didn’t really mean to do it. All she was after was some paper for the printer. She had to buy some today because she needed to print the manuscript and otherwise she’d be stuck without paper for the whole weekend. So after she got her paper (just the regular kind, as the small store didn’t have any recycled paper), she wandered to the newly opened bookstore nearby. Instinctively she walked over to the English fiction section, her eyes swiftly sweeping the titles, all the way to the letter M. She didn’t anticipate it. She’s been waiting for this book for over a year, searching for it on every occasion. But some books just don’t make it here that fast. She’d all but forgotten about it. And now, on this day, there it was. And in hardcover! Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. All three books. Almost a thousand pages of magic realism. Her favorite author and her favorite genre. Ecstatic, elated, she immediately picked it up, and as an afterthought grabbed also the very thin paperback What I Talk about when I Talk about Running, a Memoir, also by Murakami.

At the counter, one of the young saleswomen exclaimed: “What beautiful earring you have!” Without thinking, her left hand went up to her left ear to feel the earring. She remembered vaguely slipping it on in the morning. Her very first wire-wrapped earring she made, just two days before. Right after arranging a little mini-studio for jewelry designing in one corner of her apartment. After she decided to study jewelry designing. It was a primitively made earring, with no skill whatsoever. She just wanted to see if she has any potential. If she had any creativity potential, that is. And also to explore if the process of working with her hands gave her any delight. It did. The feeling after completing that one, single earring was similar to the feeling she got after completing a good session of writing. In a much smaller intensity, but it was there. She could sense its essence.

As she felt the earring at the bookstore, her fingers – on their own – took the earring off her ear, a shy smile slipped on and, handing the earring to the young woman, she said: “Do you like it? Here, it’s yours. Sorry I only have one.”

The Young woman was speechless. She held the earring in her open palm, looked at her disbelievingly, then at the saleswoman standing next to her, and said: “She gave me an earring!” There was great happiness in that small sentence. A gratitude.

She said, “Enjoy the earring,” smiled, and walked out of the bookstore with her 1Q84 and What I Talk about when I Talk about Running. Yes, got potential there. Very first earring and already given away, a small act of kindness.

That evening, after reading the first two chapters of What I Talk about When I Talk about Running, she decided to become a runner too. An extremely good day it was. The small act of kindness did her good. She made a stranger smile. For free. She got stronger motivation about her choice to study jewelry design, and decided to become a runner. All in one day. A good day, indeed.


  1. i loved the description of the inspiration you received from your own creativity, as well as the words of others (Murkami) and the act of kindness. edna.

  2. i love murkami. do you know if it is translated into hebrew?
    i ask you to send me some coordonnees about this book cause i might ask it for my birthday from someone. english or hebrew. anyway the story suits you very much and i relate to you 100% cause i do it quite often and see the surprise and joy of people from this small act.
    and how are you? i am back to haifa tomorrow to stay. bye

  3. coordonnees some referrences informations


Comments are your footprints. I'll never know what impression you were left with if you don't leave any footprints behind you. Please share your thoughts. You're also welcome to drop me a personal line at khulud.kh@gmail.com