Thursday, November 10, 2011

Two euros will buy you a friend

This past July, on what was to be one of my “last European adventures” before going back to Cairo, an old friend and I spent a perfect Saturday getting lost in the market places and side streets of my favorite city: Paris. We strolled along an alley lined with endless colorful displays and filled with hundreds of faces; people scurrying from one errand to the next. 

As we lazily made our way back home, a beggar on the sidewalk grabbed my attention. There was nothing remarkable our eye catching about his appearance in particular. He was sitting on an old broken crate behind a vender's tent. The layers beneath his long coat gave the impression that he was wearing all the clothing he owned. He seemed drained. But his aged skin and worn features were softened by his gentle pleading eyes. I handed him a two-euro coin in exchange for permission to take his photo. He beamed a toothless smile at the lens of my camera. I snapped the shot and returned a friendly grin. With an expression of joy and thanks he took my small hand between his coarse stubby fingers and gave me the most heartfelt "Merci beaucoup" I had ever heard. And he continued to repeat it, in both French and a little broken English. He looked at me as if my smile and tiny gift of two euros had saved his life. I have never seen a person express such genuine gratitude.
His bold thankfulness continued to permeate my thoughts in the following days. It surprised me. What I had done was so small I thought; yet it had such a great impact on this one man. It was then I realized that what had seemed so inconsequential to me, was a deeply meaningful gesture of kindness to this person. Now every time I look at his photograph I am reminded of how much weight even our smallest actions can carry. It seems to me that the littlest things make the biggest difference. Since accepting this simple truth, I've learned that the best way to leave my mark in this world is by impacting individual lives. I want to be an expression of infinite love to those who need to see it the most. I'm not setting out to change the world; I just want to change someone's world.

No comments:

Post a Comment