Sign makers and receivers

Dear President Trump,

The other day something new appeared down at the corner by the bus stop where the tulips were recently planted and the bus driver, Lynn from Lynnwood, left the sweet note I told you about the other day. North of the note, on the other side of the bus shelter, someone affixed a watercolor rainbow/cloud combo picture to the chain link fence alongside about 50 post-it notes in maybe five pastel colors arranged like a rainbow. Because I hadn’t been able to get up close to take it all in, I planned my morning walk route to end up there.

Well, given the set-up here, you’ve probably figured out that it wasn’t there, not even one post-it note remained. It’s like the Grinch came in the night and took it all away. When we first spotted it two days ago on a dog walk, I was able to make out that the watercolor part said something like “Be a rainbow to someone else’s cloud” and I hope lots of people got to see it before it was removed. I even checked the bus stop garbage can (peering in, not touching anything….) to see if it was in there, but nope – it just vanished. Sigh.

There is, however, a saving grace to this sad little story. On my way to the rainbow/cloud spot I passed by a garage-door-sized white sheet on a garage door bearing the message “I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words, how wonderful life is when you’re in the world” (Elton John lyrics from Your Song, 1970). Whoever did it did a wonderful job; it’s definitely worth a look if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

Do you know, are there such encouraging, loving messages peppered about the neighborhoods in DC? I hope so. I hope Whos (not “Whats”) in your Whoville and all the other Whovilles around the country, and the world, are sending up and out messages to keep one another going and to counter all the Grinchy-shit that’s going on (and I don’t mean the virus itself). We also need lots of Hortons out there looking out for us Whos.

I’ve called out such public messaging for a long time now, well before covid-19 and the new physical distancing requirements. Remember the ginormous, nearly billboard sized signs on Queen Ann Hill that say “You Matter” “You Are Enough” “You Are Loved”?

These messages are out where anyone can see them and consequently one of the things I’ve had to face in myself is that I’d really rather you and your props not have access to any of it. Similarly, I’d rather the people three blocks over with the TRUMP sticker on the back of their car not be able to take any of it in either. The reality is, though, that even if you and they scoff at them, these signs are still out in public, readily available to whoever sees them. This is the thing with radical positivity and radical love – the lover doesn’t get to choose certain objects of affection, she doesn’t get to fence love off and say “you merit my love, but you don’t.”

No surprise, but clearly mere mortals generally aren’t so good at radical positivity and love – we’re pretty particular about who we bestow such feelings on and most of us aren’t about to extend goodwill to those who are harming us. Turning the old cheek and loving thine enemy sounds good, but….

And then there are the signs. As far as I know they don’t have some magical sensors embedded that allow them to turn themselves off when misanthropes or sociopaths look at them; they stay their positive, kind selves no matter who’s eyes are on them. Who knows, maybe they’re helping in some as yet indiscernible way and are acting like water on stones, slowly (very slowly) re-contouring the hearts of everyone who sees them whether all those hearts are exactly down with this or not. I hope so.

May we all be safe.
May we all be willing to have our hearts softened.
May we cultivate the strength to be loving when liking is impossible.
May we accept and incorporate the gifts of the sign makers.

Tracy Simpson

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