“How much do you want for the bicycle?” the garage sale shopper asked.
“Ten dollars,” I said. “My daughter used to put Barbie dolls in the basket.” As if it were yesterday, I envisioned my little girl’s pigtails helicoptering above her head as she pedaled around the neighborhood. “That was twenty years ago. She’s married now. Lives in California. And, boy, do I miss her.”
“I’ll take it.” The woman’s eyes glimmered from behind round spectacles, revealing her grandmother heart. “It’s for my five-year old granddaughter. She loves Barbies too. We’ll have lots of fun.”
I sensed Garage Sale Grandma knew the joy and excitement of watching children grow. Her crinkled face suggested she understood how quickly those tender years pass—and how important it is to let the memories of our children continue to play sweet songs in our hearts.
I tightened my hands around the handlebars for a few seconds, but then helped Grandma boost the bike-full of memories into her van. As she pulled from the curb, she turned back to smile with joy and understanding. I waved to her. My heart smiled too.
Garage sales foster a special flavor of kindness among people. One person lets go of clutter filled with timeless recollections; the other receives worn-torn treasures with which to build new memories. There’s an unspoken respect—a silent sacredness—that connects kindred spirits as one lets go of the past and gifts it to another’s future.
I wish we could sell the kindness that permeates neighborhood garage sales. But kindness has no price and can’t be sold.
Kindness is the generous spirit of love we build every day by the attitudes and practices we adopt. It begins with the way we treat ourselves. Can we allow ourselves to make mistakes? Can we laugh it off when we pour motor oil into our lawnmower—and then see our error announced when clouds of smoke sputter out the muffler?
Can we take time for ourselves to ease into the day rather than rushing into it? Meditation, prayer, time in solitude as we talk with God and sip morning coffee, these practices that nurture us, can turn our hearts into the precious gold of love multiplied.
Take time to experience kindness today. Feel its softness when you care for yourself by praying, meditating, reading, talking with God, taking a long, hot shower. Slowing down.
Practice the Zen of garage sale kindness. It’s contagious.
—brian j plachta