The magical, iridescent bubbles leave his makeshift wand and float up into the air, drop down to the red brick pathway or pop suddenly in the face of my little boy who is trying to catch them.
A moment of pure joy is created by a street performer on a perfect summer evening in Central Park. There is a connection between the bubble-man and my son, although no words or glances are exchanged. They are both completely focused on their individual missions. One creates beauty with a wave of his arms, two sticks, a net and a bucket of detergent; the other creates beauty with his arms outstretched, his little legs running and hands coming together to catch or pop the thin imperfectly-shaped spheres.
There is laughter.
There is innocence.
There is nostalgia.
There is kindness.
There is just so much beauty in this moment, my heart swells as I watch the two in action. I am standing next to one of my nephew’s childhood friends savoring this moment; I feel connected to my nephew now too.
It reminds me of something I read a couple of weeks ago about the effects of kindness:
My friend Stephen Post, professor of Medical Humanities at Stony Brook, tells a story about his mother. When he was a young boy, and his mother saw that he was in a bad mood, she would say,
‘Stephen, you are looking piqued. Why don’t you go out and help someone?’
Empirically, Ma Post’s maxim has been put to rigorous test, and we scientists have found that doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.” (Seligman, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, 2011)
We have to keep walking, but before we leave, I grab a card from my purse with my nephew’s picture and message about his legacy of kindness and some cash. Bubble-boy drops both into the bubble-man’s case.
We are all happy for a moment.
#169. Gave a nice tip (and a NoochieRAKs card) to a man who made bubble art in Central Park.
#167. Re-registered to serve on AFSP’s Chicago Walk Committee.