Community service is not something I was taught. It’s something that’s done because a judge or a parole officer says it needs to be done, or something your eco-friendly group thought it would give a try (not that I’ve had much experience with either). Community service. You know, “Keep your hometown clean,” “Boost the camaraderie between neighbors,” “Support the local schools,” and on and on and on until “community service” becomes another note in the drone of all the latest trends.
Trends and court orders aside, remember that communities start with one person. Me. You. Until it becomes an “us,” and suddenly my quality of life depends on how vandalistic you’re feeling, and yours on whether I feel generous today. A single person can make all the difference; after all, a whole is made of many individual pieces, or so the cliché goes. But it’s true.
Sometimes, that person doesn’t even have to be a part of another’s community to initiate a change. I had the pleasure of stumbling across an article not too long ago by Ms. Alexa Renée Smothers, detailing her trip to Lithuania. Not usually something I look through, but the photos taken by Mr. Stefano Grassi were just too interesting to pass up.
The part that caught my eye was labeled under CURIOSITIES, and that is where I discovered the very real character of Ponia Rožytė, or Mrs. Rosette. Mrs. Rosette is a homeless woman living in Vilnius, the capitol of Lithuania, and one of the most remarkable women I have ever read about.
Dressed in dramatic furs and extravagant, colorful clothes, she becomes quite the sight, strolling down the street. With the money given to her, she’ll perhaps buy a coffee at the café or more of her outrageous clothes from the thrift store. Her peculiar looks are nothing in comparison to the shine of her attitude. Mrs. Rosette knows she might look silly, but that’s kind of the point. Unlike most of us, Mrs. Rosette is quite comfortable embracing her individuality to the fullest and flaunting it for everyone to see. She might look silly, but then, she might make someone smile too. And there’s nothing better than that.
Even though there are oceans and continents between us, I was immediately touched by this marvelous lady. She gets it. She understands what it means to be completely true to yourself, to be completely happy with who you are and what you have, and how to make the people around us feel the same way. She inspired me to be better. Or not to be better, but to be more honest with who I am, and to make sure others feel comfortable to feel that way too.
I want to thank Ms. Alexa Renée Smothers for sharing her amazing experience, and Mr. Stefano Grassi for providing a glimpse of the beautiful Ponia Rožytė for those of us who might never get to meet her firsthand. Please, do yourself a favor and visit their site, which can be found here and read her encounter with Mrs. Rosette. It’s a truly amazing story.
The community is comprised of many individual people, and sometimes, the best way to bring all those people together, to put a spring back into what might have become a humdrum life, is to remind someone of that individuality by flaunting your very own. Everyone has something to share, something to offer. Whether it’s baking bread, turning on the open sign at the local dollar store, or being positively fabulous to put a smile on someone’s face; we selfishly pursue what makes us happy, and in doing so, we bring a community together. We fight for a happier place.
There will be times when the day drags on, or when a week, month, drags by, and life seems pretty dismal; there will be those rough patches, but luckily, there are people like Mrs. Rosette who can wake up, face that dreary day, and make everyone smile. The community is filled with individual people–even if all you do is hold the door open for someone, keep in mind that that single act to that single person can make an entire community a wonderful place to be.