A couple of days ago, I was at my local knitting store, La Knittierie Parisienne, on Ventura Boulevard, with my community of people who sit together for hours on end to practice our shared craft. I’ve come to really appreciate these women and men as time passes, a group of people who are fundamentally quite different. We would most likely never know each other in our various walks of life, we might never hang out together, but we show up to share our love for art and books and making beautiful things. Knitting is what we all love to do and we love to do it together.

We choose patterns and yarns, we discuss textures, we compare colors, each of us giving our opinions on what goes with what. We listen to each other, we take advice from Edith, owner and resident knitting coach/genius, and we share our points of view. We celebrate the sweaters and hats and scarves that come out well and we commiserate the mistakes and bad choices that we make. Sometimes, we have to rip out several rows or an entire back of a sweater if we misjudged the size or followed the pattern incorrectly. “As ye knit, so shall ye rip,” the knitting adage goes. It’s a lot easier to do that when the person sitting beside you knows the pain of dropping stiches and starting over. A look of empathy from a fellow knitter goes a long way when you have to start over or when you’re struggling to put a sweater together and the arms turn out to be different lengths.

When we do creative things, life feels better. When we do them with other people, we also feel seen and understood. I was having a strange day the last time I was there, a little off balance and not myself. I was feeling somewhat disconnected and isolated even though I knew everyone in the room. Life gets like that sometimes and when I got up to leave, I felt disappointed that I hadn’t really connected with anyone.

But you just never know what’s around the corner. As I walked away from the table and headed toward the door, someone was standing there facing me. I knew her, not all that well, but I liked her and I smiled as she put a finger to her lips. “Sh-h-h.” she whispered handing me an envelope. I took it from her as she walked back into the knitting room and when I opened it, she had given me a gift certificate for yarn as a gift.

I felt a flush of gratitude come as I headed to my car. I had no idea why she had decided to give me that gift. We barely knew each other but that didn’t matter to her. I suddenly felt connected, not only to her but to everyone at the shop. I realized that even when I’m not aware of it, there is connection happening. There is gratitude and appreciation happening. I learned that giving a random gift to someone for no particular reason can be a source of healing. If you feel the urge to give for no obvious reason, just do it. You might be helping someone you didn’t even know needed help.

When was the last time you gave someone something on a whim? How did it feel?