This happened a few months ago. During pandemic, I traveled a few times between Sofia and Vienna driven by the desire to be close to loved ones, that I have in both countries.
One time, I had a few hours to wait at the train station in Sofia. So I was sitting on a bench outside the building. And then she came. She was a woman somewhere in her thirties dressed in old dirty clothes, more like rags, with short black locks and a strange smile on her face, that would deceive you to say it was silly.
She started conversing about my dog (I travel often with my dog, my daughter’s dog actually, but as it often happens, I have to take care of it). A small dog that roams the roads with me, looks like a regular street dog, even more, because of often not being on a line and following me along, that is if you don’t see the leash that looks somehow fancy with a small iron heart.
She inquired about how old the dog is, did it ever had puppies, and was somehow very happy to hear it had 4 puppies one time. All the time laughing. From the way that she talked I could conclude that she was mentally challenged, few teeth were missing from her mouth and that gave a special accent. I don’t remember if I gave her some change, I hope I did. I went on catching my transport.
After two months or so, I was traveling again the other way around and was at the train station and the dog was walking somewhere between the people. And then she came again, the same girl, pointing at the dog asking the same questions and having a smile on her face.
I grabbed a coin from my pocket somehow impulsively and just pressed it in her hand. She took it somewhat surprised, put it in her pocket, never said thank you, and went along with the smile on her face. I remember I had a strange feeling, can’t describe it exactly like dizziness of a sort.
On the train, I thought a bit about it. I think, the next few days, my thoughts kept returning to that girl. I was doing “Walk the Dragon” seminar at that time and most of the time I would sit under a tree and read the weekly books from my phone. I promised myself that I will read everything for the week and would try to understand as much as I can.
Often I would sit until the moon raised and went a bit on her way through the night sky. Then I would have dinner with my parents and go to sleep.
This night I remember dreaming about this girl smiling. And I woke up feeling joy. Then I realized that there is something different here. Something about the way I thought about her. You see often when I see beggars on the street I have a tearing painful feeling I wonder if they have a place to call home? Do they have breakfast? How much pain they have to endure? How did they become like this? Would their life change for the better?
I would feel compassion or pity, sometimes, even I can’t tell. But no matter how long I thought about her, I would just see her face and her smile, and this confidence would arise in me that her smile was genuine at this moment, it was an expression of happiness.
I tried to think how hard it must be, how much pain she had to experience. And for some reason, I couldn’t, all I got was this smile in front of my eyes and the urge to smile myself. Her look was too desolated for me to feel jealous and her smile was too beautiful to feel pity.
I started thinking that maybe this is what I got for my coin, this is what I bought, like the bread in the shop. And it didn’t matter how much I gave but rather how I gave it. The joy was what I got in return. The smile in my dream. So I wanted to do a lot more “shopping”. Since quantity did not matter. I would have more to spend. But then I saw that mindfulness is also a commodity of some sort. You can only spend as much as you have. And you gain more through kindness and practice.