Guerilla Tactics to Build Love and Community

guerrilla or guerilla (ɡəˈrɪlə) — n 1. a. a member of an irregular usually politically motivated armed force that combats stronger regular forces, such as the army or police.

I just left my appointment at Fenway Health. It's an important appointment.

If you noticed I've been posting a bit less frequently and with less detail, you are one observant person. If you hadn't noticed, that's cool, too. It probably means you're focusing on your own life--as well you should be. ;)

I've taken the past few months to take time for myself and work all this out on the inside. This was new for me; in the past, I externalized a lot of what was going on in my life with anyone (and everyone) who would listen. This time around, I chose a select few--mostly notably my incredible team of supporters at Fenway Health in downtown Boston--right by Fenway Park.

The love and support I've received from the most unlikely folks--have proven one thing to me: love is a choice. It's a decision people make to either offer or withhold. We all intentionally decide to create the space, open up the conversation, persevere at the relationship or shrink from all of this.

We all have this ability in our lives---for every single person and creature in our lives, every minute of every day. The extent to which we meet our own expectations, is the impact we choose to have with the time we have.

Most importantly--we will do this on our own timeline. In our own way. And it will hardly ever align with the expectations we hold for each other.

I've been the recipient of strangers in my life, some were even acquaintances, bestowing tremendous amounts of kindness, compassion and COURAGE in my general direction for most of my life, but specifically the past few months. These are people who are really stepping outside the lines of what they know, what they've been told is right or real or normal or popular. And in the process, they are helping me in ways that can't be measured.

I wondered, as I left my appointment today, how could I ever repay these people? How could I possibly create a dent like they have in my life? Simply by being "nice" back?


Perhaps I could do more.

I left that appointment and wandered around REI. Then Best Buy. I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket--didn't know how much I had left on it. It was a hefty surprise gift and I had used some of it on DVDs. It's safe to say, I'm obsessed with films. I brought some choices up the register---and recognized the person there. He was cordial, just as he was last time I happened by mid-morning on a weekday. The place was quiet. Not much happening. Rihanna's "Where Have You Been" thumping in the background--(I need speakers like that in my home someday...)

And he rang me through the transaction. Asked me how my day was going. And it stopped me. That long list of thoughts running through my head, lists to check off, concerns and worries, plans, apprehensions--self-absorption--it all dropped away. I was only present with one thought: he is really doing a good job at his job. He is trying to provide good customer service. I took note of his name: Robert.

And then I smiled, interacted with him--I flashed an even bigger smile when I realized I was getting 3 awesome films and only owed 3 dollars and 8 cents.

He said, "have a great day" and then helped me validate my parking ticket--with great eye contact and simple directions.

Stop and take a moment here: how many times have you gone through a similar experience and had someone on the other side behave like you were an annoyance? How many times has it been you acting that way--either as the customer or the service provider?

How many times, I wondered, has this guy been rewarded for doing his best--when no one was watching? I decided, today was the day that he'd know someone was watching.

I walked over the Customer Service and had to wait in line but it made me enjoy the anticipation even more. When I stepped forward, I knew I was doing something so rare that it literally gave me goosebumps. The customer service rep looked at me, and I said, "can you do me a favor? Robert over there--the past few times I've come in" and her face fell--I knew what she was expecting---is that what WE ARE ALL USED TO? Negativity and complaints?!---I continued, "he has been amazing, his customer service is impeccable." She smiled tentatively. "I've worked retail, I know how hard it can be--to get lazy and think no one notices. Can you do me a favor and give him something special to reward him?" She said, "wow. Thank you, I'll go tell my manager and give him a hug."

I repeated myself, "he really deserves something awesome. He is a rockstar."

She said, "thank you. I will make sure he does."

I walked out, watched the back of his head--giddy with the excitement of what was about to happen to him, knowing I'd never know the details--but that I had been a part of something good coming his way.

Please do this today. Fight the convention of our days--the rhythm we all get into that makes this world a difficult place to live, quite often. Use querilla tactics to create space, and give love and build community like the people I've mentioned in this post. Do the irregular thing. Step outside normal to combat the stronger force of policed hate and separateness that we all experience every day.

Like the people in my life who have been bold and brave and made space for me where I didn't think it could exist.

Like the person who planned two ways to celebrate her colleague in a span of 3 seconds--and one included a hug!

and me, who intentionally chose to celebrate a total stranger--because I wanted to pass on the good feelings I had.

How can you do this today in your life?