art, love and human kindness

Twice a week, I workout with a group in a park in Recoleta — a neighborhood here in Buenos Aires. I take the subway to and from the park and have to switch trains about halfway. From my door to the park, the trip usually takes me around 40 minutes. And while I wish it were a little closer to home, my workout commute has given me moments to explore and appreciate the various forms of art that flow through this city.

This evening revealed one such moment.

As I was on my way home from working out, I transferred from Linea H to Linea B as I usually do. And as I came up the stairs, out of the tunnel and onto the platform, I was greeted by something familiar, something that immediately gave me chills, pulled at my heart and set my mind in motion.

On the hot and somewhat stuffy platform, a man was strumming the intro to one of the most popular songs in the world from one of the most popular bands of all time. I heard him before I saw him, and just the first few chords seemed to cooly electrify me.

I wasn’t expecting the music or this particular song tonight. Nor was I expecting it to strike me the way that it did. I walked a few steps further down the platform, turned around and watched as commuters casually filed onto the platform near the musician.

The music — and the heat — seemed to melt me. I rested my head on the wall as I waited for the next train to arrive, and the musician started to sing. His voice, the guitar echoed softly throughout the station.

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.
Nothing you can say, but you can learn how to play the game.
It’s easy.
Nothing you can make that can’t be made.
No one you can save that can’t be saved.
Nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time.
It’s easy.
All you need is love. All you need is love.
All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.

The moment mesmerized me. This simple-yet-thick and oh-so beautiful moment at the end of the day — one of recognizing love and humanity and that we’re all in this together — caught me off guard.

It’s funny. I 100% associate this song with The Beatles, but I also associate it with the movie Love Actually. So as I stood there, I thought about that movie. I thought about the intro to that movie, which is so timeless. I thought about the state of the United States and the state of our world right now. If I’m being honest, the division I’m seeing in many directions has been beating me down the past few weeks. I know there are stories of love and empathy and people coming together, but my social media feeds and the media in general seem to be full of divisive, negative tones — and it’s breaking my heart.

My wish for us all is that — no matter our differences or where we come from — we can find ways to walk peacefully toward one another. To meet. To embrace. To have conversations. To seek understanding. To work toward solutions. Together. With everyone at the table.

This week, as I was scrolling through past notes on my phone, I came across this message from a sermon at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley last summer: “Be the light that pushes out darkness. Move into neighborhoods; cross the street. Bring light; bring hope. God has moved into our neighborhood — and continues to move into the neighborhood of our hearts. Don’t dim the lights.”

Continue to bring light, not darkness, to your life and the lives of those around you. The lives of everyone around you.

Negativity breeds negativity. Love breeds love.

We need more empathy, compassion, kindness and love. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and so this moment on the subway platform — this moment in which art delivered a message of love in, what is for me, a foreign place surrounded by strangers — just really hit home for me.

The world always needs love and kindness. Always. Always. Always. I realize this isn’t the be-all and end-all solution — and I don’t pretend to have all the answers … or any answers, for that matter — but I do think this is where we need to start. It’s the foundation for moving forward together.

February 2, 2017

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