Friday, October 4, 2013

Fairy Tales Sometimes Happen

Once upon a time, a young man made some mistakes and had to go to jail. While he was in jail, he thought about these mistakes, about how others had tried to help him, and he decided not to do stupid, mean things anymore.

One day, he saw some other men sitting in a circle and talking about how they saw the world. They talked in ways that helped them tell stories about their lives, what they had seen, felt, and learned.

The young man sat down and listened for a long time. Then he spoke up and told some of his own stories.

In one story, a true one, he was homeless. All he had were some old clothes and a skateboard. He loved that skateboard and learned how to do tricks with it. In fact, the only times he felt happy were when he was working on tricks and doing them better and better.

He was all alone on the streets of Phoenix, Arizona, in the summertime one day, practicing his tricks. On this day he was sad and angry because people had been mean to him. He was trying to get rid of his anger by working really hard on his tricks, doing them better and better, until he worked so hard his skateboard broke.

It seemed like the whole world was against him.

But, when he went to a skateboard store, the owner saw that he had no money and a big need for a new skateboard, so he gave the young man one.

The young man did not know how to thank him, but tried to help other people for a while. He did this as long as he remembered that someone had been kind to him. His tricks got better and better. But then he forgot and made the mistakes that put him in jail.

The men in the circle liked the story, and someone later retold the story on the radio.

A film maker heard the story and decided to make it into a movie.

On the same day that the film began, the young man got out of jail.

Other people heard the story and wanted to help tell the story again and again. The young man was paid for the story and a newspaper wanted to interview him.

That movie is being filmed right now in Tucson.

It will tell the story of kindness and what kindness can do to change things. Many people, especially young people, will see the movie. The young man is happy and grateful.

This story is not over. It keeps going. There is a kind of magic that brings people together to warm their hands around the fire made by telling this story. Some say it has lit a candle in cold, lonely hearts. Some say it walks at night, in alleys, downtown, disguised as a smiling custodian, or under the moon, as a singing coyote.

This story lives, and it is very true.

Grace of a Stranger