There Must Be More to Life, But What?
by George Thompson
"‘Why is it,’ Jonathan puzzled, ‘that the hardest thing in the world is to convince a bird that he is free, and that he can prove it for himself if he’d spend a little time practicing? Why should that be so hard?’”
— Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull
“If you fired an arrow and stopped it in its flight, and sighted along the arrow, you would see where it was going. If you stop life in its flight and sight along it, you will see that it is headed toward an enlightened planetary civilization.”
— Harry Palmer, author of the Avatar® materials.
I was in the sunroom at our house on Betsy Lane in Houston. Our family had moved in at the first of the summer, but my parents had shipped my brother John and me out of town, first to friends in Kentucky, then to cousins in Virginia, so they could pull up the orange shag carpeting to reveal hardwood floors, and cover dark paint in the kitchen with bright green wallpaper adorned with big yellow and white flowers.
It was 1970, I was 8, John was 6, and my sister Teal was about to be born. Standing in the remodeled sunroom alone, I was excited by a strong but vague feeling that there must be something more to life. I didn’t know what the “something more” was, but I was certain it existed. I knew that something good was coming. I just couldn’t tell you what. It came to me that things could be better than they were, but we would need to work at it. Yet it would be worth our extra effort.
What A Good World This Is Today
by George Thompson
Customer service is alive and well, at least at a car dealership in Lawrence, Kansas. A couple of months ago I was car shopping, and stopped by Lawrence Kia. I met a manager who said, “What can we do to earn your business?” His question made an impact on me, and I bought a 2016 Hyundai Sonata from them that day. It has been getting 35 miles to the gallon on my commute, and I am happy.
The remote access key I got from them had been glitchy — sometimes I had to push the button six times to get the door to open. The dealership wanted to make it right, and needed my car for a few hours to program the key. I wanted to leave my car with them while I was out of town, but logistics were getting the best of me with all the commuting I do, and the flight I needed to catch. If they had my car, how would I get to work and then to the airport?
I have been experimenting with asking for help, so I presented the dilemma to Kevin, one of the used car managers. He had a solution that I had not even considered. I would drive my car to work in Olathe, 35 minutes away. He would send his driver Harvey to my office in the afternoon, and Harvey would drive with me the 40 minutes from my office to the airport, then drive my car the 50 minutes back to the dealership. A second driver would bring Harvey to my office and then return to the dealership, 35 minutes each way.
His offer blew me away. I had already bought a car from them, so their kindness could only be described as goodwill.
Goodwill seems to be a missing commodity these days — that sense that someone has gone out of their way to help you. As I was driving to the airport with Harvey, I was filled with gratitude. My heart swelled with the refrain of, “What a good world this is today.” I wondered how I could pass all this goodwill on to someone else. I could not keep that grace just for myself.
This urge to share kindness stopped my busy mind long enough to contemplate a few questions. How much consideration could we show each other? How quickly could goodwill spread? What if the world could be like this always? And why shouldn’t this come to pass?
The next few days I couldn’t help but pass the kindness along. When I saw a fellow traveler struggling to lift his bag into the overhead compartment of the plane, I stepped in to help him. I smiled at people I didn’t know. I happily created a celebration so a coworker could share his success with his team. I answered more requests with an open-hearted, “Yes!”