Monday, June 15, 2009

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight

On Friday I went out to downtown to give away Yogathon flyers to people on the streets around the Union station. Yogathon 2009 is a event to be held on July 7th in Chicago Hilton. The event is organized by the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) which is a non-profit organization which takes up community projects to serve people across the world.
Yogathon which is being held in Chicago is specifically raising money to have free stress relief programs for the veterans in Chicago and for public school students in Chicago.

We were just four of us with bunch of flyers in our hands, looking anxiously at the moving crowd. I thought it may be a good idea to have ourselves scattered at different entrances of the Union station - this way we may be able to cover more. That was my idea. So I headed towards one end whereas others went in opposite direction.

Frankly speaking, it was little awkward at first. I stood in one place and simply showed the flyers to people who moved by and as they approached handed one to each of them. Some people ignored me. Some simply waved in a gesture that they were not interested. Some showed that both their hands were full with stuff and so it was difficult to collect the flyer. Some were curious to know what I was giving away, whereas some thanked me after they picked one out of my hand.

I may have stood there for 10 minutes and I was not doing well. May have given away 10-20 flyers; only!; may be. I looked at my watch more often; I looked at my cell phone every minute. What was wrong, I thought. What can I do to pass on this message of Yogathon? Why were there no other volunteers to help? Why should only four have to do this work? The most difficult work? What does it take for the people to pick a flyer? Are they really in a hurry? Are they worried that a dark skinned foreigner is going to make them fall for something they don't support? I am standing there, wanting to help people of Chicago, and hey you Chicago folks running away? Help yourself! huh.
How will you know what it is all about if you don't care to find out? Or may be they did not want to find out! In that case you are irresponsible citizens, not grateful for people who fight for you, don't care for the youth, self centered, too busy in your own self.

I was tired - of standing all by myself. Angry - that people did not care. Embarrassed - when people ignored. Agitated - when people made silly reasons for not picking the flyer.

No, no; this is not what I should be thinking, I told myself. I walked across the street and saw one of the other volunteers trying to pass on the flyers. They were not doing any better. Now what? I walked to one of them and told her lets do it together. May be that should work. She turned to me and said, how does it feel when people don't take the flyer from you?

Well... Hmm... Bad? Yes. Bad because I feel I am trying to help you; I get nothing to do what I am doing but still I am helping. But you don't understand. When all this is for you!

But what was I getting from all these thoughts? I should have no intentions to do this task. I am helping for love of humanity and love should be unconditional. If people want to know about Yogathon, pass on the flyers. That is your work. Pass on the word. People act or don't act is not your responsibility. If someone is not willing to take the flyer from you, its okay. Pass it on to someone who is. Don't get bogged down by some ignorant people, they have their own stress to deal with. Think how you can make the best of the time you are there.

Then it was a different experience all together. I was in a different mind set. I decided I will give the best smile to whoever that walks down that entrance. That was the only good thing I could do. It is not the time to judge anyone. If they don't look at you or want to ignore, that is also fine. Just give it your best shot; because that is all you can do. So that is just what I did. And the response was awesome. People smiled back too. They were more eager to know what I was giving away. I could even hear few say, 'ah.. sure.. I can take it from you!'. Some people inquired what was Yogathon all about. Some people told me that they would not be around July 7 and I would say, then pass it on to someone who may be around. Some people had their hands full with bags and stuff but still walked by to pick up the flyer off their free finger tips. I must have given away 500 or more flyers in no time. It felt great!

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