Pay It One Step FURTHER

Last year while attending the conference in DC, I lost my laptop. I always have a lot on my mind, and I tend to move about the world in a constant whirl of chaotic energy, yet, I can appear to have it together, which amazes me. Anyway, I didn't realize that I lost my new laptop until the next day and I anxiously return the site where our conference was held, a multisite location that was crawling with psychologists, therapists, interns, students, etc. Where do I start? I tracked my steps and asked around, trying not to seem too desperate. The conference help desk was the next place I was directed to go, and this is where my -Pay it One Step Further- journey began. A security guard offered assistance immediately by having me fill out a report for police, and I thought that seemed like a drastic step, as I hope nobody would deliberately steal my computer. Based on the value of my loss, he assured me that it was necessary. He then escorted me back to each wellness, educational, and testing vendor station that I visited and almost interrogated the staff, yet, in a very supportive way, at least for me. We returned to the help desk with our heads hanging lower than they were when we left. I then spot a brown-skinned police officer with dark curly brown hair pulled back in a ponytail. She was in full police uniform and appeared young, maybe mid 20's. I was again embarrassed as I knew she was at the conference to take my report. I apologized to her immediately as my description of a lost and possibly stolen laptop seemed so minute compared to the real crimes and needs of the people of an ENORMOUS community. She assured me in a soft voice that no report was too small, and everyone has a right to be acknowledged for the severe losses in life. I told her, it was a 13 inch Apple laptop that I purchased over a year ago when I started my own business. It was silver, and it held all of my private moments from the last year of my life. I told her that my tears had little to do with my financial loss and more to do with a paranoid fear of what someone could or would want to do with my personal information, pictures, and identity. I apologized again as in my mind's eye, and I imagined the scene. I was sitting on the steps of the conference center, next to the Help Desk, crying while being interview by a Police Officer and apologizing to her repeatedly as I knew to lose a laptop was nothing to cry over. Then a fantastic Pay It One Step Further moment came. This young lady began to cry with me. She told me, just for a moment. Her head was down, and she smiled in a shy, innocent way, and laughed at herself. She told me that it'd been a long week. She finished my report. I gave her one of my necklaces, not sure if it was a saint or a crucifix but she took it. I then found an area to retreat in defeat, worry, and self-pity and I called the one person who always seems to get me through moments like this, I called my husband, and he called on Jesus. He began to pray. A man in a Red IT shirt walked by me, and I thought that I would check with him, just in case, but didn't. I needed to accept this. I let my husband console me while I sat in the entryway of one of the conference rooms, near an outlet, as my phone was also almost dead. Several people quickly walked past me, even though they could see I was upset, sad, and worried. I sat on the carpeted floor in a business suit. I had tears in my eyes, and I was on the phone. I could have been crying about the mountains of things. In reality, that's precisely the reason for my tears. I was moaning about a little bit of everything. The guy in the Red IT shirt returns walks by, slows down, and asks me if everything was alright. I assured him that everything was fine and that I just lost my laptop. He then told me that he found a computer, last night and didn't tell me where to pick it up, he walked me to the IT center where it was returned- the one place nobody thought of contacting as it was in an adjacent building, tucked away on the second floor. I asked the man why he chose to stop and help me. He said it was because he could see that I was hurting. He said, "I know pain." He shared that he was an immigrant and just received word earlier that week that his brother, who was still in his home country, was killed. I noticed an incredible trend that took place during a time of increased chaos and political and religious uncertainty, the people in my story, including myself, were all people of color. We came from different backgrounds. We each came from a different walk of life. There were differences in our profession, socioeconomic status, and living, and working arrangements, yet, for a brief moment in our lives, we were able to cross paths and learn from one another. Each person on this journey revealed to me how we each have the power, the power to MAKE A CHOICE to do more than our roles obligate. Each person, I know, chose to take it one, two, and even three steps further they needed to help me in this non-crisis moment. That evening at the airport, I chose to visit with the stranger sitting next to me on the plane. I was able to offer him a supportive ear and even some friendly advice. I carried a hot drink for someone who had their hands full in the airport terminal, and I started to give someone directions and instead just walked them to the shuttle that just stepped in front of us. I knew in each moment that I could do the minimal or I could take it is only ONE STEP FURTHER and this I know, every time, will make all the difference of genuinely helping others. Paying it one step further is now the message I carry in my daily psychological, personal, and community work. The three generous souls that started this journey for me changed the person I have become today, and the person I try to be more often than not, which is a challenge. I encourage you to take it just ONE STEP FURTHER when you're called to help, especially if you know what your next step already will be! Go and be good to others! LoveYourTribe and WeAreAllOneTribe!

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