Happy birthday, Doug! May this year be one of wonderful surprises and delights!

My life was altered forever in a moment of listening. My friend in the hospital was telling me about her visitors—not just family but also the doctors, nurses and med students who come into her room. One med student stayed an hour because she listened to him.

“You know,” she said, “I always thought that creating a ‘world that works for everyone’ meant embarking on a global project of some kind. That always seemed pretty daunting. But—but I just realized that the world is whatever is in front of me. The world is whatever is in front of me!  Wow. So I can make the world work anytime for whoever is in front of me!”

She changed my life in that one moment, and I told her so.

I called up Jockey (the company) to find out how to return and replace an item in a recent order. I decided to go for it and tell the woman who answered the help line what I really wanted—and told her I hesitated to do that because I didn’t want to make trouble for her (it was a rather complicated request), and we ended up laughing hysterically—the kind of guffaws that fill one’s tank for a week. I ended up with exactly what I wanted, and she ended up thrilled that she did that.

Actually, I can change the life of anyone in front of me, even if “in front” is not immediately apparent. And it doesn’t have to be significant. When I go into Five Guys now to pick up an online order, they yell, “Nancy’s in the house!” or “Nancy’s in the casa!” I don’t know if it’s because I always add a 25% tip—or even if they know. It doesn’t matter. I think Covid has changed my view of life and the people in it.

When we were in New York recently, my friend Mary said she didn’t have any singles so she’d leave $5 for housekeeping. I said I’d already planned to leave $5, and we could both do that. The third friend was a bit aghast but wasn’t going to make an issue of it. There we were, three of us in New York, each of us dropping at least $1,000 for the weekend. Five bucks a night was not even a rounding error for any of us, yet for a housekeeping person the cost of getting into the city to do her job.

I’m constantly reframing my view of the world, as I suppose is natural—the way the designs in a kaleidoscope shift as it turns. I always think I’m the one holding the kaleidoscope (we humans do love to think we’re in control), but maybe I’m the kaleidoscope itself.