Last month in Pompano Beach, Florida, an amazing chain of kindness occurred at the drive through window of the local Starbucks. It started when one man, Arthur Rosenfeld, paid for the coffee of the person in line behind him. Why did he do it? Because the guy was honking and yelling at him. Rosenfeld, a Tai Chi master, claims he wasn’t trying to pay it forward, as in the movie, or perform a random act of kindness, he was just hoping for a change of consciousness. Nevertheless, his one kind act resulted in a day-long chain, with every customer paying for the car behind them.
At the moment, I’m sitting on the sofa in my favorite coffee shop in downtown Sarasota. Interestingly enough, the conversation surrounding me is angry. Apparently a customer just called one of the cafe employees an idiot, and the man sitting next to me got pretty upset about it. At the moment he’s spewing a stream of verbal venom about the snowbirds in Sarasota.
“They come down here, buy up all our real estate, and drive the prices so high that the locals can’t afford to buy houses any more; then on top of it they’re rude. They should just all go back where they came from.” Somewhat earlier he was commenting on satellite television, saying: “Three hundred channels and nothing to watch. I’d like to talk to the people who write this garbage.”
To say this man is angry and negative would be an understatement. I spoke to him briefly. He’s been living on his sailboat for the past 22 years. He was raised in Texas, came to Sarasota for the first time in 1967, then left for California. In 1992 he returned to Sarasota and is disgusted with the changes that have occurred. “Thank God I live on a boat where I can pull up my anchors and go to an island where none of these SUV’s can get to me. I’m about to close up my studio and leave this God-forsaken place forever. It’s been ruined by people who make decisions base only on one thing, how much money it puts in their pockets.”
Some people just want to be angry. Chaos and drama are their comfort zone. When life starts to go smoothly for this type of person, or they begin to experience happiness, they unconsciously find a way to throw a monkey wrench into the equation so they can go back to anger and negativity, where they are most comfortable. I used to try to help people like this but I now understand this is a waste of my time. Happiness is a choice. That bears repeating: HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE. People who choose to be negative, angry and unhappy cannot be helped until they change their minds. When this very angry man in the bookstore cafe stood up to leave I wished him well, said I hoped he would find what he was looking, for and said a silent prayer for him. Now I have to do something to get rid of the residual negative energy he left behind. I think I’ll go pay for someone’s coffee.